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Jasper County sheriff candidate arrested in connection with shooting

A former candidate for Jasper County Sheriff was arrested on two charges of assault with intent to kill Wednesday in connection with a shooting Sept. 11 that sent him and another man to the hospital.

Joel O'Quinn, 45, of Ridgeland was charged by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division with firing a .40-caliber Glock pistol at 49-year-old Rusty Spencer and nephew Timothy Spencer in the parking lot of a Point South restaurant that was closed at the time.

O'Quinn shot Rusty Spencer once in the buttocks, according to the arrest warrant. He also is charged with shooting at the vehicle of Timothy Spencer, who was not injured.

Investigators said evidence at the scene, statements by the Spencers and text messages between O'Quinn and Rusty Spencer led to Wednesday's arrest.

A SLED spokeswoman declined to release details about the shooting or the contents of the text messages, citing the agency's investigation.

The Jasper County Sheriff's Office asked SLED to investigate because O'Quinn, who owns Carolina Investigative and Consulting Services, was once a state wildlife officer.

O'Quinn was booked into the Jasper County Detention Center at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and released less than two hours later on a $125,000 bond, according to a jail spokeswoman. O'Quinn faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

O'Quinn was discharged from Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah last week after suffering undisclosed injuries. Rusty Spencer also was hospitalized.

Spencer has not been charged in connection with the shooting, and no other charges are pending, according to SLED.

O'Quinn ran for sheriff in 2007 after Sheriff Ben Riley was killed in a car wreck in Bamberg County. He lost in the Democratic primary to current Jasper County Sheriff Gregory Jenkins.

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