A Marine stationed in Beaufort was armed with a handgun when he attempted to break into the home of his estranged wife Sunday and was eventually shot and killed with the weapon, Hampton County authorities say.
Investigators have not determined what Staff Sgt. Jerome Carter's intentions were when he broke through the bedroom window of his estranged wife's home on Pocataligo Road in Yemassee at about 4:30 a.m, but they say he was not there to rob her.
The couple had been separated for about a year, and Carter, 34, had moved out about three months ago to a house in Bluffton, according to Hampton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Anthony Russell.
Once inside, Carter and Tusvon Russell, 26, of Varnville fought over the gun, which discharged during the scuffle, and the bullet struck Carter in the chest, authorities said.
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Russell said deputies found Carter lying in a hall and rushed him to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he was pronounced dead.
The relationship between Carter's estranged wife, Tamika Sylwanna Carter, 35, and Tusvon Russell is unclear. He has been identified by investigators only as her "invited guest."
Tusvon Russell turned himself in to authorities soon after the shooting, was questioned and released.
No charges have been filed, though the investigation continues, Capt. Russell said.
Officials from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort released details Tuesday about Carter's military service.
He was assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 and was an aircraft maintenance administration specialist, according to a news release.
He had been in the Corps for 16 years and deployed to Kuwait in support of operations Iraqi Freedom, Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom, the release said.
Carter also earned several honors, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Presidential Unit Citation-Navy, and Navy Unit Commendation, according to the release.
Lt. Col. William Gray, commanding officer of MALS-31, said Carter was well-liked by his fellow Marines and sailors.
"My hope is that (Carter's friends and family) find comfort knowing Staff Sgt. Carter touched the lives of countless Marines and Sailors, was well respected by all who knew him, and simply put, made a difference," Gray said in a statement. "He served his nation honorably and will be missed."