St. Helena man charged in sailor's death

BEAUFORT -- The St. Helena man accused of shooting and killing a Beaufort sailor outside the Masonic Lodge on Lady's Island was arrested Tuesday.

Melvin Holmes Jr., 23, turned himself into Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigators at about noon Tuesday.

Holmes faces charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Police say he shot and killed 22-year-old Mario Morgan, a U.S. Navy hospitalman stationed at Naval Hospital Beaufort, during an argument early Sunday outside the Masonic Lodge. Morgan was fatally shot in the neck, according to the Coroner's Office.

Holmes was being held at the Beaufort County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing.

The Sheriff's Office also arrested Lashawnda Cecilia Bentley, 20, of Beaufort on Monday afternoon and charged her with providing false information to investigators about the


Police say Bentley knowingly made a series of false statements during interviews with investigators. She was released from the detention center on Tuesday on $1,092.50 bail.

The shooting at the Masonic Lodge was the lone fatal shooting in a recent rash of area gun violence. Seven shootings have been reported since July 5.

Investigators say there is no information linking Morgan's death or Holmes to any of the other shootings.

Despite Holmes' arrest, the Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the shooting, and encourages anyone with information to call Investigator Cpl. Brian Chapman at 843-470-3469 or the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at 843-524-2777. The shooting also is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.