Crime & Public Safety

Police following "many leads" in Cherol's death

Shooting death in Bluffton: Deputy chief talks investigation

Maj. Joseph Manning, deputy chief of the Bluffton Police Department, says multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in the search for a suspect in the shooting death of 33-year-old Johnathan Cherol sometime late Oct. 27 or early Oct. 28.
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Maj. Joseph Manning, deputy chief of the Bluffton Police Department, says multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in the search for a suspect in the shooting death of 33-year-old Johnathan Cherol sometime late Oct. 27 or early Oct. 28.
While police have released little information about their fledgling investigation into the shooting death of Bluffton restaurateur Johnathan Cherol, Maj. Joseph Manning of the Bluffton Police Department said Thursday investigators are following "many leads."

"We aren't focused on one avenue," Manning said. "We are sending an investigator out to every one of these leads."

Cherol, 33, was found dead of a single gunshot wound inside his home at 39 Pinecrest Way around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday when officers went to the residence after a report of gunfire, Lt. Joseph Babkiewicz said in a department news release.

Manning said the department is not ruling out any possibilities as it investigates Cherol's death and is now being assisted by investigators from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

The department does not know if Cherol knew his attacker, Manning said Thursday.

When asked by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette if there were signs of forced entry or if anything was taken from the residence, Manning said "We won't comment on that as it is part of the investigation."

No suspects or motive have been identified, he said, and the murder weapon has not been found.

An autopsy of Cherol's body was completed Thursday at the Medical University of South Carolina, Manning said.

Cherol was an active member of the local restaurant scene and co-owner of the recently closed Pepper's Old Town in Bluffton.

The May River Road restaurant had opened in early 2015 as a revamp of the original Pepper's Porch, replacing another restaurant that was also co-owned by Cherol, called Jack's Old Town.

Anyone with information on the shooting can call the Bluffton Police Department at 843- 706-4560.

Follow Caitlin Turner on Twitter at twitter.com/Cait_E_Turner.

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