6 people dead in SC in domestic dispute

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 4:49 AM
Last updated 7:11 PM
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GREENWOOD, S.C. — Bryan Sweatt was in the middle of a custody fight with his girlfriend over their 7-month-old daughter and facing a burglary charge that could put him in jail for years.

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His girlfriend's father had warned him to stay away from his house and the dirt track Sweatt had built in the backyard for his all-terrain vehicles.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, Sweatt broke into the parents' house and waited for them and the girlfriend to come home, police said. When they did, Sweatt fatally shot his girlfriend, her parents and two children living there, before turning the gun on himself, Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis said.

"Once you see a horrific scene like this it never leaves you. It's with you day in and day out," he said.

The victims were identified as Richard Fields, 51; his wife, Melissa Fields, 49; their daughter Chandra Fields, 26; and two of the couple's grandchildren who lived with them: William Robinson, 9; and Tariq Robinson, 11.

Davis didn't specify a motive for the shootings, but said it appears they stemmed from a "domestic violence situation."

He said Sweatt felt that Chandra Fields wasn't allowing him to see their infant child often enough. The girl was not among the dead.

He said that Sweatt had called 911 while he was in the Fields' house, stating that he was on the edge and contemplating suicide, before hanging up.

It's unclear how many — if any — victims had been shot before he made the call at 5:54 p.m. Tuesday. A police report said a dispatcher heard a woman in the background say: "Do not point that at me" before the call was disconnected.

Sweatt allowed four children to escape — his 7-month-old daughter, the infant's cousin and two neighborhood children who came to the door after school to play with the Fields' grandchildren.

No one knows why Sweatt let them live and shot the others, Davis said.

"I cannot tell you at this point that I have all the answers for you," he said.

While they're still searching for clues, one thing is clear: Sweatt's life was spinning out of control.

Sweatt has a lengthy arrest record that dates back nearly a decade, according to state police records. Most of his charges were related to property crimes, such as burglary or forgery, although he was arrested once on aggravated assault charges.

He was supposed to be in court Tuesday on a burglary charge, Davis said. The sheriff didn't have many details about the hearing, but said Sweatt faced up to 30 years if he was convicted.

On July 6, 2012, a woman filed a complaint, saying she wanted to have Sweatt checked out because he was threatening suicide, according to a Greenwood County sheriff's office report. She also said she was afraid of him. No charges were filed.

Neighbors said that a few months ago Richard Fields started allowing Sweatt to store his recreational vehicles on his property. The Fields lived in a one-story home on a rural stretch of road south of Greenwood, a city of about 23,000 in northwestern South Carolina.

Neighbor Jeff Hicks said he didn't mind initially but things quickly changed. Strangers began showing up and racing the four-wheelers long into the night, he said, adding that Fields had complained to him about the noise and said he was going to ask Sweatt to stop coming around.

"He just couldn't take it anymore. He was just fed up," Hicks said.

Hicks said he had frequently talked with his quiet, friendly neighbor about hog hunting and other outdoor activities.

"It's a shame. It just tears you up," said Hicks, who last saw Fields Tuesday morning. "I waved to him, and now I'll never see him again. That's how short life is."

On Wednesday morning, Hicks showed an Associated Press reporter the shed and backyard that still houses more than half-a-dozen four-wheelers. Children's toys and a plastic slide were strewn about an adjoining back yard.

Sheriff Davis said Fields also believed that Sweatt had stolen property from him and told him "not to come back."

But on Tuesday, Sweatt returned.

After breaking in, he waited for the victims to come to the house.

Officers went to the home after receiving the 911 call from Sweatt. Davis said while police were on their way, a neighbor called 911 saying four children from that address had arrived at her house and told her a shot had been fired. He said the children remained at her house.

After about an hour and "several unsuccessful attempts" by officers to make contact with anyone in the home, the SWAT team entered and discovered the bodies, authorities said.

"This is a tragedy," said neighbor Ansel Brewer. "It just so hard to imagine something like this going on here. Why would someone do this?"

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curly123053
4570
Points
curly123053 10/30/13 - 08:33 am
3
0
Sad!

Domestic violence strikes again in SC. Once again innocent children are victims. Just 2 weeks ago that 8 yr old girl was buried with her mom in Aiken after being killed along with her mom in a domestic violence case. This is totally sad. Prayers for the surviving family members and friends up in Greenwood.

Fiat_Lux
15134
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/31/13 - 08:40 am
6
1
This is exactly what happens

when people get stressed out way beyond the level of their coping skills. There are, IMO, three sources that can lead to this, especially when all come to bear on a single individual or family situation.

1. Inadequate formation in a faith tradition that fosters belief in a transcendent reality. ("There is no god; I'm the center of my universe.")

2. Inadequate training or education leading to reasonable/survivable economic means. (emasculation, depression, anxiety, isolation, interpersonal conflict, self-hatred, projection.)

3. Disruption and threats of chaos regarding societal support systems and national order. (Despair, fear, desperation, hopelessness, suicide, extreme violence.)

It's a trifecta of decline and ruin, and there are so many people in our country who have been raised with the first two that our current national stress and threat to our normal support networks (ie, being able to afford healthcare for our families and still live in our homes and eat) is pushing people right over the edge.

And then there are the people who were not right in the head all along. Thinking they will take their meds and making them live outside an institution/turning them loose among the general population isn't turning out too well, is it?

localguy55
5477
Points
localguy55 10/30/13 - 09:06 am
4
1
It is tragic to say the

It is tragic to say the least, however, South Carolina is not unique. This happens all over the U.S. and the world as a matter of fact. We just hear of the ones that happen close to us or ones that make the big news.

Fiat_Lux
15134
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/30/13 - 09:49 am
2
1
Actually, by now the whole Eastern US has heard about it

on the morning news shows. CNN, Headline News, and Fox are all reporting it.

Gwen_from_Aiken
19
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Gwen_from_Aiken 10/30/13 - 10:51 am
3
0
6 DEAD IN GREENWOOD

The hardest thing about a series of deaths in cases like this is that it is so difficult to get information that can be used to diffuse other such acts. The study of such crimes in an in depth manner will have to be funded and orchestrated by people who are looking for a cure, not looking for funding. As these deaths grow in abundance and attack every age, demographic and socio-religious level, little is realized as to why such crimes are growing so rapidly. First, we need to know what all of these crimes have in common and continue from there.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/30/13 - 11:25 am
5
1
We do know what the common

We do know what the common denominator is... We just are too prideful and stubborn to admit it....sin nature.

internationallyunknown
4052
Points
internationallyunknown 10/30/13 - 12:07 pm
3
1
These animals. Evil is

These animals. Evil is roaming the land like never before. We see and hear about it everyday. People are their own "god" these days.

Where are the preachers and community leaders?

InChristLove
22468
Points
InChristLove 10/30/13 - 12:44 pm
7
2
internationallyunknown, there

internationallyunknown, there are preachers and community leaders out there but in our society, when they speak a little too loud, enough for others to hear, they are told to shut up and keep their God to themselves.

internationallyunknown
4052
Points
internationallyunknown 10/30/13 - 02:06 pm
2
0
Good Afternoon ICL.

Good Afternoon ICL.

jimmymac
37148
Points
jimmymac 10/30/13 - 03:45 pm
0
0
LOCALGUY55
Unpublished

The sad fact is that yes this happens everywhere in the country. The sadder fact is that SC leads the nation is domestic violence against women. Someone needs to figure out why so many in SC feel it's OK to take their frustrations out on their wives, girlfriends and children.

InChristLove
22468
Points
InChristLove 10/30/13 - 08:11 pm
1
1
Good Afternoon to you also,

Good Afternoon to you also, internationallyunknown

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/30/13 - 09:16 pm
4
1
Where are the people who are

Where are the people who are willing to bow their knees and head to God and ask for forgiveness, salvation, healing, discernment, knowledge and wisdom ?

It is NOT about someone else. Not the government, not the church, not the community leaders...it is about the individual.

It is about personal responsibility....and personal relationships. First, with our God, second, with ourselves, third, with our family and fourth, with our neighbors/ community!

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