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Neighbors, family reacts to 14-year-old boy accused of shooting, killing 44-year-old woman in Lancaster County

Later Monday night, officials said sufficient evidence had been gathered to lead investigators to conclude that the boy was the shooter.
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 2:57 PM EDT
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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Deputies arrested and charged a 14-year-old boy with murder in the fatal shooting of a 44-year-old woman in Lancaster County.

On Monday at 6:41 p.m., a call was received about shots fired at the home on Quiet Acres Road north of Lancaster. Deputies of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and Lancaster County Emergency Medical Services personnel responded.

After not receiving a call-out response, the first deputy on the scene went into the home and found a woman on the floor of the living room with apparent gunshot wounds. The victim was identified as Veronica McIlwain.

McIlwain’s sister-in-law described her as a sweet, good person who did not deserve what happened. She did not want to talk on camera with WBTV but us what happened was very tragic. She supplied one of the only pictures of Veronica McIlwain her family has of her. It something her sister-in-law says family is holding onto tightly after she was found dead in her home.

”It disturbed me a little bit,” says Randolph Barnes, who has been living in the neighborhood for 51 years.

He says he cannot remember when murder was the talk of the neighborhood.

”It kind of upset me,” he says. “It was kind of shocking news.”

What shook him up the most was that he lives so closely he could have seen all of this happening from his back window.

”And right at my backdoor. And someone gets shot and killed in the house…yeah that gets to me,” says Barnes.

Deputies cleared the home and found no one else inside.

EMS personnel tended to the victim and determined she was dead. The Lancaster County coroner was called to the scene, and officials say an autopsy of the victim will be scheduled.

Agents of the Lancaster County Multijurisdictional Violent Crime Task Force and crime scene investigators responded, the home and two vehicles were searched and evidence was collected.

Officials say interviews were conducted of several people believed to have knowledge of events related to the shooting. Later in the evening a 9 mm pistol believed to be the weapon used was found in a trash can in the restroom of a convenience store in Lancaster.

The 14-year-old boy was not on scene when deputies first got there but arrived at the home in a vehicle shortly after. He was detained and taken to the sheriff’s office investigations division.

As someone who has been in the neighborhood for so long, Barnes feels the need to go visit with the family. Right now, he is giving them space as they mourn.

”They might still be upset and disturbed so I don’t want to go over their right now,” he says.

But from just across the grassy yards, he sends them the well wishes he hopes he’ll get to tell them in person.

”To the family and whoever is involved, I just hope the best for them in the future. I really do,” he says.

One big question is why? Investigators have not said what lead up to the shooting.

Later Monday night, officials said sufficient evidence had been gathered to lead investigators to conclude that the boy was the shooter. He was taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice Detention Center in Columbia where he will be held pending proceedings in the Lancaster County Family Court.

Officials say Documents will be filed with the court Tuesday alleging the juvenile is delinquent for committing the offenses of murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and possession of a pistol by a person under 18.

No other information about the juvenile will be released at this time because of his age.

“This is an ongoing investigation, but we believe we have an accurate account of the events that occurred on Quiet Acres Road last night,” said Sheriff Barry Faile. “We do not believe anybody else was involved. This is a tragedy for the family and friends of Ms. McIlwain, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

All defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.

Anyone with information about this or any other case should call the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at 803-283-3388 or contact Midlands Crimestoppers in one of the following ways: dial 888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372), log onto www.midlandscrimestoppers.com and click on the “Submit a Tip” tab, or download the P3 Tips App for Apple or Android devices.

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