A man shot last week by two Beaufort police officers had recently gotten out of the Marine Corps in March and planned to start classes at Savannah State University this week in hopes of earning a business degree, according to his mother, Janice Sales.
"He was a good-hearted child," said Sales of Cordele, Ga. "He had big plans for his future, and that was taken from him."
Anthony Bernard Bass, 24, whom his friends and relatives knew as "Ant," had his whole life in front of him, an apartment in Beaufort and a steady girlfriend -- all of which makes it difficult for Sales and Bass' father, Tony Bass, to believe what Beaufort police say happened May 27 on Southside Boulevard.
Police say Anthony Bass opened fire on two officers as they approached to question him about a vandalism complaint they were investigating in Spanish Trace apartments, where he lived. The officers returned fire as they chased Bass down the street into a nearby yard. Bass was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Beaufort County Coroner's Office.
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Authorities have refused to say whether a gun was found on or near Bass' body or release the names of the officers involved. Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy and a SLED spokeswoman also declined Wednesday to say how many shots were fired and how many times Bass was shot.
Tony Bass of New York said he doesn't believe the police account of the shooting.
"I don't buy that," Tony Bass said. "My son served his country, so why would he be shooting at the police? All I know is that they shot my son, and if my son was shooting back, he would have hit someone. He was a pretty good shot. He was trained to shoot."
Neither officer was injured. Both are on administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, which investigates all shootings involving the state's police officers.
Anthony Bass had no arrest record in South Carolina, according to SLED. A spokeswoman for Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs in Quantico, Va. could not be reached for information on Bass' history in the Corps.
Sales and Tony Bass said Beaufort police and SLED officials have provided little consolation.
"I just want some answers," Sales said. "They never notified me that my son had been shot. They did not contact me at all. I want to know what happened to my son."
Bass will be buried Saturday in Cordele.
As she prepares to say goodbye to her son, Sales said she harbors no ill will toward the officers who shot him.
"(The officers) are God's children, too," Sales said. "Everyone will have to answer for what they do in life. No matter what, we have to forgive. I just want justice to be served."