COLUMBIA, S.C. - A South Carolina ex-convict accused of answering a knock at his door on Halloween night by spraying the front of his house with bullets and killing a 12-year-old trick-or-treater pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a federal weapons charge.
Quentin Lamar Patrick is accused of killing T.J. Darrisaw, who died in a rain of at least 29 bullets. Patrick, 22, entered his plea during an arraignment on a charge of being a felon in possession of a gun and ammunition, an offense connected to two guns found in his Sumter home.
Patrick, who has three prior convictions for crack cocaine distribution, emptied an AK-47 into his front door, walls and windows when he heard someone knock and saw people wearing masks standing on his stoop, police have said.
The boy was trick-or-treating and knocked on Patrick's door because the porch light was on in the city about 45 miles east of Columbia, police said.
His 9-year-old brother, Ahmadre Darrisaw, and their father, Freddie Grinnell, were injured but survived. Another sibling with them was not hurt.
Patrick told police he had been robbed and shot in the past year and that he thought he was being robbed again. He faces state charges of murder, three counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, and one count of assault with intent to kill.
The boy's parents declined to speak with reporters after the hearing.
Outside the courthouse, Patrick's brother offered solace to the victim's family and said his tightly knit Sumter family was also suffering.
"We'd just like to apologize to the family for what happened," said Tommy Lewis, who said his brother had lived in the neighborhood where the shooting took place for only a month. "It was something that was unintended, as bad as it may seem."
During the hearing, Patrick answered routine questions from U.S. Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett, saying he understood the charges against him and possible penalty of life in prison. Patrick had been held without bond on the Sumter charges, and no federal bond was set.