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Police: Dispute led to fatal shooting in Bluffton

Police are continuing to investigate an argument that apparently led to the Friday night shooting death of a 50-year-old Bluffton man at Palmetto Pointe Townes, according to Bluffton police.

Thomas L. Mullins Jr., of 15 Moonbeam Court, was found lying shot in the chest in the front yard at 7 Moonbeam Court -- the home of his neighbor, William Shane Moreland, who was arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection to the shooting.

Mullins was taken to Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville where he was pronounced dead, said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen.

Capt. Bryan Norberg said Sunday a dispute escalated between the two men in the moments before the 9 p.m. shooting, but declined to provide additional information about what might have started the argument.

"It was a heat of the moment thing," Norberg said. "It looks like there was some kind of dispute and then it escalated."

Mullins, who lived alone, was not armed during the incident, Norberg said. A gun was taken into evidence at the scene but Norberg would not provide more information about the firearm.

Sunday afternoon, family, friends and Palmetto Pointe residents attended a memorial service held for Mullins at The Island Funeral Home and Crematory.

Mullins' neighbors, who declined to be identified, said they were shocked to hear about the "tragic event." Neighbors said they heard gunshots Friday night, but were unaware of any dispute between the men. Attempts to reach family members of Mullins Sunday were unsuccessful.

As of Sunday night, Moreland, who is originally from Lake City, Fla., still was awaiting a bond hearing at the Beaufort County Detention Center, according to the jail log. If convicted of the felony manslaughter charges, he faces a minimum of two years and a maximum of 30 years in prison, according to Norberg.

Marissa Maulden, Moreland's girlfriend and roommate, declined to comment on the incident or Moreland's charges Sunday.

Her father, Max Maulden of Argent Way in Bluffton, said Saturday that attorney Andrew Savage of Charleston-based law firm Savage & Savage would represent the couple.

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