Two people were killed in Dale late Sunday in what officers would only describe as a double homicide, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office spokesman.
Officers were in the preliminary stages of an investigation that would likely last through the night, and did not have a suspect in custody as of 10 p.m. Sunday, Maj. Marvin Morrison said. Morrison said he could not provide any additional details of the incident or the victims.
Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said he had been to the scene but was not yet authorized to release the names of those killed.
About 20 people who described themselves as relatives and friends of the victims gathered along Oakhurst Road, a dirt pathway off Keans Neck Road, about a half-mile from where officers said the incident took place, on Player Road.
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Some shed quiet tears; others bowed their heads, and some talked with other friends and family who knew the victims. They declined to name the victims.
Three of the bystanders said those killed included a mother and one of her children. Another child was also injured in the incident, according to friends. Officers did not confirm there was a third victim.
Pastor Michael Haskins and his wife, Betty, of Second Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Burton stood with whom they described as the mother and grandmother of the victims.
The woman, who attended services at Second Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, had called the pastor for support, Betty Haskins said.
"We don't know the details," she said. "We just heard it was a shooting."
Alleen Porter, 36, of St. Helena Island stood surrounded by others who had known the victims while the reality of what had happened sank in.
Porter said she worked with the victim at Shanklin Elementary School and described her as a warmhearted and loving single mother of four children, all boys.
The victim was a kindergarten teaching assistant at Shanklin Elementary, said Porter, an assistant principal there.
The two were also close friends, Porter said.
"I'm feeling so numb," she said. "This is by far the most heinous crime in Beaufort County since I've lived here."
She last saw the victim Thursday at school where they were "cracking up and laughing like we always did," Porter said.
"She was just that kind of a person," she said. "She made you want to stay at work."
The victim took a personal day off work Friday, Porter said.
Shaquana Jenkins, 30, of Seabrook first met the adult victim when she started doing her hair about 12 years ago, Jenkins said.
"She was a fun, outgoing, good person to be around," Jenkins said. "When I got the phone call tonight, it was just shocking. It was unreal."