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Escaped SC inmate leaves behind verbal hit list

UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Recently, there was a big manhunt in Union County for an escaped inmate. He was being held on charges for stealing a vehicle and several traffic violations.So, why did law enforcement pull out all the stops for a massive manhunt? 7NEWS dug deeper to find out.“He had a list of about 40 people that he wanted to kill,” said Neil McKeown, director of the Union County Detention Center. “You can’t take it lightly. So, all hands were on deck trying to get him.”Davi...

UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Recently, there was a big manhunt in Union County for an escaped inmate. He was being held on charges for stealing a vehicle and several traffic violations.

So, why did law enforcement pull out all the stops for a massive manhunt? 7NEWS dug deeper to find out.

“He had a list of about 40 people that he wanted to kill,” said Neil McKeown, director of the Union County Detention Center. “You can’t take it lightly. So, all hands were on deck trying to get him.”

David Strickland escaped from the Union County Detention Center on September 30. He was on the run for over a week.

“You have someone that escaped from jail, you know. So, there’s a rhyme and a reason behind of why they done that. Whether that’s to harm someone or just to run,” said Captain Scott Coffer.

McKeown said Strickland escaped from the work camp area. He went through a fire exit, into a small, fenced in area.

“But when he went out, he carried a blanket and a bunch of clothes with him and threw them over the razor wire,” said McKeown.

The first night, Sheriff Jeff Bailey said it was only law enforcement from the Union County area searching.

“We’ve got an obligation to the community to keep searching and that’s what we were going to do,” said Sheriff Bailey.

As one day passed into another, they realized they needed more help.

“We didn’t have the manpower we needed,” said the sheriff. “So, I reached out to neighboring counties. Spartanburg County, York County, Greenville County was involved. U.S. Marshals, their fugitive team, and SLED.”

7NEWS reporter Alessandra Young asked the sheriff directly if this escaped inmate making a verbal hit list, threatening law enforcement and other people, made them use extra resources when trying to apprehend him.

“Yes, we felt like we needed to use as many resources as possible to apprehend this individual, because the more time he spent on the run, the better his chances were that he could acquire a weapon or try and take care of some of these people he had threatened,” said Bailey.

Law enforcement found out about the “hit list” by speaking with other inmates after Strickland escaped. Near the top of that list was Captain Scott Coffer.

“It was later on that night that I learned about this list by some of the jail staff and they told me that I was on there,” he said.

The captain said it’s not the first time he’s been threatened.

“When you have a family, you always want to protect them,” said Captain Coffer. “So, on that side of it, yeah, you always kind of, maybe look over your shoulder for a minute.”

Just when they were running out of tips and places to look, they got the call they were hoping for.

Strickland was recaptured inside an abandoned house.

Captain Coffer said after searching and searching, they found him hiding inside the insulation in the attic. He said they were able to find him all thanks to a CrimeStoppers tip.

Strickland has a record dating back to 1996. With this being his second escape from jail.

His first escape was back in 2002 from a prison in Bennettsville. That time, he was recaptured the same day.

What landed him in the Union County Jail this past August, Captain Coffer said, was stealing a car and various traffic violations.

On the morning of August 30th, that stolen truck was spotted.

“Knew it 100% was him, tried to block him in and he went come around me and then we had a vehicle pursuit,” said Captain Coffer.

Captain Coffer said Strickland did damage to property, like destroying a church fence, during the chase. After he crashed, Captain Coffer took him into custody. Which, he believed, landed him on that verbal hit list.

Now, back behind bars, McKeown said Strickland is being kept in a maximum security cell, and being watched at all hours.

As for the entire hunt and recapturing, Sheriff Bailey said it’s a collaborative effort between multiple agencies.

“We work as hard as we can and we use all the resources we have available to us and just be patient, but we won’t ever give up. I promise you that,” said Sheriff Bailey.

The sheriff said the scale of any manhunt depends on the particulars of the case and Strickland’s threats escalated their response.

There are steps being taken to keep this kind of thing from happening again.

The detention center director said they are improving the razor wire at the work camp building.

He said overcrowding played a huge role in Strickland being moved to that work camp building and had a lot to do with his ability to escape.

He said they are planning to build an addition to the jail, which will give them 62 additional beds.

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9 incarcerated men receive college credentials at Bennettsville prison

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WPDE) — Nine incarcerated men at Evans Correctional Institution received workforce certificates in business and industrial technology from Northeastern Technical College (NETC) at a graduation ceremony held on Aug. 9.A press release from Cheraw college stated the ceremony was the second of its kind for the college and the prison, made possible by the Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Experiment....

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WPDE) — Nine incarcerated men at Evans Correctional Institution received workforce certificates in business and industrial technology from Northeastern Technical College (NETC) at a graduation ceremony held on Aug. 9.

A press release from Cheraw college stated the ceremony was the second of its kind for the college and the prison, made possible by the Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Experiment.

The experiment allows incarcerated people to receive federal financial aid for higher education, to increase their access to college; in 2016, NETC was selected as one of 67 colleges in the United States to participate in a pilot program.

One of the men who graduated spoke at the ceremony and talked about his pride in completing the program along with his appreciation for the opportunity presented through the program.

Today is a historic day at Evans Correctional, we are acknowledging the success of a few believers, who became achievers in their educational pursuit. History has shown that success is not achieved by doing nothing, but the result of exercising belief, perseverance, and endless efforts to accomplish what seemed impossible,” he said. “Northeastern Technical College provided us the opportunity to obtain educational credentials that will indeed enhance our possibilities for success in life as productive returning citizens.

He continued to say, "Knowledge that is earned, is knowledge that cannot be discredited or even taken away. I stand proud with these men graduating today, we have accomplished our goals through belief, perseverance, and effort."

Due to the success of the experiment, the press release shared that funding eligibility will expand in 2023 to include incarcerated individuals in correctional facilities throughout South Carolina.

NETC has now expanded its curriculum to include stackable workforce programs in order for students to gain workforce skills, employable knowledge, and lifelong learning opportunities that “stack” upon other educational opportunities to create Associate and Bachelor degrees.

At the graduation, the South Carolina Department of Corrections Director, Bryan Stirling said, “Our department couldn’t have success with recidivism without education and job skills programs like this one. I want to thank our colleagues at Northeastern Tech and the staff at Evans for making this program so successful. It wasn’t always easy to work through the limitations of the pandemic, but they stayed the course and provided the leadership and structure to help build a better life for our graduates and their families.”

A study from RAND, first conducted in 2013 and updated in 2018, found that access to postsecondary education in prison can reduce recidivism by up to 48%, which ultimately leads to safer communities and less of a financial burden for taxpayers.

Scotland basketball coach Michael Malpass reaches career milestone 300 wins

Jan. 9—LAURINBURG — When Scotland head basketball coach Michael Malpass played for the Fighting Scots from 1992-95, he never knew he'd become his alma mater's head coach one day, or have his former high school coach Walter Steele on his staff today.He also never realized he would reach a career milestone 300 wins as a head basketball coach.On Jan. 5, when the final buzzer sounded to give Scotland a 63-56 win over the Purnell Swett Rams, Malpass had secured his 300th career win as a head coach.Malpass, who has...

Jan. 9—LAURINBURG — When Scotland head basketball coach Michael Malpass played for the Fighting Scots from 1992-95, he never knew he'd become his alma mater's head coach one day, or have his former high school coach Walter Steele on his staff today.

He also never realized he would reach a career milestone 300 wins as a head basketball coach.

On Jan. 5, when the final buzzer sounded to give Scotland a 63-56 win over the Purnell Swett Rams, Malpass had secured his 300th career win as a head coach.

Malpass, who has been a head boys varsity basketball coach for 16 years, is now in his second stint as the Scotland varsity head basketball coach after he coached the Fighting Scots from 2013-15 before stepping down to pursue a full-time role as a pastor at New Hope Baptist Church. Malpass still preaches there to this day.

And, if it wasn't for his faith and those that helped him along the way, Malpass said he wouldn't be where he is today.

"I want to thank the folks who invested in me when I started this journey of coaching boys' varsity basketball," he said. "I was an intern for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte while attending there under former head coach Bobby Lutz, who is the all-time wins leader at Charlotte, and his knowledge, approach, and belief in his players, coaches, and myself made a huge impact at an early age. I played basketball at Scotland High and my most influential coach was Walter Steele, who is on my staff today. I want to thank the administration, coaches, and players from Harvest Christian Academy in Fort Worth, Texas, Evangel Family Christian Academy in Montgomery, Ala. Crenshaw Christian Academy in Luverne, Ala. Rocky River High School in Mint Hill, N.C., Marlboro Academy in Bennettsville, S.C., and my current alma mater Scotland High School."

"My strongest and best support has always been my wife Charity Malpass, who is not only a wonderful coach's wife, but also a wonderful pastor's wife. My four kids love sports and have shown me unconditional love and support and a special thanks goes to Bronson, Makayla, Peyton, and Reagan. I believe writing a vision, making it plain, and going after it with passion and good mentors is the key to achieving your dreams. I sit here today with multiple conference championships, state championships, final four appearances, but (it couldn't be done) most importantly (without) the players who have won all the games in real time. Our goal is to love our staff and players, and help them be successful in every area of life."

Black authors gather for Cheraw, SC, book festival

Arts and Entertainment Black authors gather for Cheraw, SC, book festival Published Friday, March 24, 2023 6:26 pm SEVEN SHOOTER VIA UNSPLASH The fourth annual Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival showcases more than a dozen writers March 25 at Kevin Lear on Main in Cheraw, S.C. Black authors and their fans have a home at the fourth annual Cheraw Black A...

Arts and Entertainment

Black authors gather for Cheraw, SC, book festival
Published Friday, March 24, 2023 6:26 pm
SEVEN SHOOTER VIA UNSPLASH
The fourth annual Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival showcases more than a dozen writers March 25 at Kevin Lear on Main in Cheraw, S.C.

Black authors and their fans have a home at the fourth annual Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival.

The festival, which is March 25 at Kevin Lear on Main, 140 2nd St., will be held from 1-5 p.m. and includes more than a dozen authors from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

“We had overwhelming support for the Black Authors Lab and Book Festival last year,” said co-founder Michael Strong, author of “Strong Getting Stronger,” which chronicles the more than 20 years he spent in active addiction. “Many people in the community were overjoyed with the books available for purchase and the opportunity to meet the authors who wrote them. Last year, we saw people come out who we hadn’t seen in years, and our featured author D.N. Miller (“The Museum”) traveled from Pittsburgh, set the tone and had the audience on the edge of their seats during her reading.”

Strong was excited by the number of school-age children and their parents who attended last year.

“That was the target of our efforts, to get parents and children together in one place to enjoy the works of local and national black authors,” Strong said. “We’ve moved to a warmer time of the year, which allows us to host part of the event outdoors. There will be a couple of surprise guests and on-site food vendors. We’re implementing a slightly different format to increase the energy and to better engage attendees. We are also asking for $10 donations to help offset the costs of the venue and refreshments.

“We all know that knowledge is power, and I’m grateful to be part of an event that inspires young children to recognize the importance of reading while encouraging them to tap into their writing abilities.” Strong said. “Chances are some of the kids at this year’s festival might be among our featured writers down the road.”

Among this year’s featured authors are Dr. Beverly Rogers of Georgia, William Lee of Reidsville, N.C., and Bennettsville, S.C., poet Rickey Brown.

“All of our featured authors are amazing and inspiring speakers who have gone above and beyond in their works of art and have truly redefined the writing game,” Strong said. “They all truly exemplify the late great Toni Morrison” who once said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

Bennettsville, S.C., natives and festival co-founders Erica Malachi and Strong, are looking to build on the event’s success the last three years and inspire others.

“I strongly believe that writing should evolve like any other subjects like science and math,” said festival alumnus Linda Orji, whose most recent work is “Cracked Concrete Vol. 1: A Poetic P(rose) of Her. Self. Innovation.” “Those subjects are being molded on a revolutionary level. Why aren’t we doing the same thing with writing and reading?”

Tracy Powell, another alumnus, said her love of reading and learning inspired her to become a writer Powell started journaling as a child and published her first book in 2016. She went on to author “Practical Leadership: Lessons Learned from Mickey,” “The Journey to Authorship: A Pocket Guide for Writers,” and “The Leadership Journal.”

“I participated in the first two Black Authors Lab and Book Festivals because it’s an opportunity to collaborate with and be empowered by a beautiful community of colorful people,” she said.

“I think festivals like these are important because they offer a safe place for colorful writers to come, share and demonstrate their work. There’s no other opportunity in South Carolina like this of which I’m aware.”

For tickets: eventbrite.com/e/2023-cheraw-black-authors-lab-and-book-festival-tickets-72870787487

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Discolored water issue in Bennettsville upsets business owners, residents

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WPDE) — Many people have reached out to ABC15 to complain about discolored water in some parts of the City of Bennettsville.They said the water is brown with a muddy tint.One woman said she’s had to close her business for the time being until the problem is fixed and the water is clear again.TRENDING: 23-year-old Robeson Co. man charged f...

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WPDE) — Many people have reached out to ABC15 to complain about discolored water in some parts of the City of Bennettsville.

They said the water is brown with a muddy tint.

One woman said she’s had to close her business for the time being until the problem is fixed and the water is clear again.

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Several other community members said the discoloration has been happening for almost two days and they didn’t hear anything from the city until they started complaining about it on social media.

The City of Bennettsville released the following statement:

We have experienced a problem at our Lyalls Street Water Treatment Plant that has resulted in discolored water in certain areas of the city. We are currently working to resolve this problem. It will be resolved as quickly as possible.

However, some community members question if it is safe to drink or cook with the water.

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The city administrator sent the following statement regarding the issue:

The City of Bennettsville is currently experiencing a problem with one of its pumps located at the Lyalls Street Water Treatment Facility. Due to the pump shutting on and off due to electrical problems, it has stirred up soils in the area causing turbidity. The City of Bennettsville is currently working on flushing the lines to clear the water. We have also spoken with DHEC to get guidance on the problem. As a result of our communication with DHEC, an official boil water advisory is “not” been issued at this time but we encourage citizens who are experiencing discolored water at their location to use caution when using the water. The process of flushing the system could take several hours and the City of Bennettsville will post an update to the matter at 3:00 pm today.

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Residents are asked to call (843) 479-9001 or email info@bennettsvillesc.com with any questions or concerns.

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