Roommate of Clemson student killed in home invasion faces marijuana charge

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COLUMBIA — The roommate of a Clemson University student shot and killed Saturday after masked intruders entered his off-campus home was arrested later that night and charged with simple possession of marijuana, Pickens County deputies said.

Robert McKinley, 29, was booked and released on the misdemeanor charge after deputies searching the home after the shooting found the drugs, investigators said Monday.

Pickens County Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan refused to say whether the marijuana arrest was related to the shooting. He said the department is following several leads, including looking for a black Dodge Durango SUV that was videotaped speeding out of the gated community by surveillance cameras at the time of the robbery.

McKinley was one of six people inside the home at the upscale subdivision marketed to Clemson students about two miles from campus when the three men entered through an unlocked back door, authorities said.

Steven Grich, 23, died at the scene.

A woman answering the phone at a listing for McKinley on Monday said he was devastated by his roommate’s death and was cooperating with investigators. The woman identified herself as McKinley’s relative but refused to give her name.

Grich was a junior majoring in electrical engineering, school spokeswoman Robin Denny said. He was from Fort Mill.

McKinley and Grich lived in Chimney Ridge, a community of more than 100 two-bedroom cottages and four bedroom homes. The Web site for the subdivision touts a 24-hour security alarm system in every home.

J.J. Andrighetti, a lawyer for the owners of the complex, said each home gets its own security code for the gate. Since the shooting, he said, the community is suggesting residents come by to have the codes changed and share them only with people they trust.

In addition, Chimney Ridge shared the video footage that police released from its security cameras and has hired a security guard to work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Andrighetti said.

“We’re doing everything we can to help the police and get this solved quickly,” he said.

University officials sent an e-mail to students Sunday reminding them of safety rules such as locking doors, not answering if a stranger knocks and reporting any suspicious behavior. They also made counselors available for Grich’s roommates, neighbors and friends.

“We are so sad about this sudden loss of one of our students,” Dean of Students Joy Smith said in an e-mail. “The death of a young person is always a tragedy, but it is especially so at this time of year. We will support his family and friends and other students during this difficult time.”


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