Suspect in deadly Citadel Mall shooting has multiple prior arrests

Suspect in deadly Citadel Mall shooting has multiple prior arrests
Cary Stephens, a suspect in connection with the deadly Feb. 26 Citadel Mall shooting, has been arrested more than a dozen times, according to Charleston County Jail records. (Source: Al Cannon Detention Center)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The man arrested Tuesday in connection with last week's deadly shooting at Citadel Mall has been arrested more than a dozen times.

Deputies and US Marshals arrested Cary Kejuan Stephens, 28, on a warrant for murder in connection with the Feb. 26 shooting of 23-year-old Deja Dantley. He is also facing a charge of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to jail records.

Witnesses told police Dantley had been in an argument with a man who shot her then fled the scene. Dantley was found a short time later in the front seat of her car after crashing into another vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Al Cannon Detention Center records show Stephens was arrested 16 times prior to Tuesday.

Prior to the latest charge, his most recent arrest was in May 2018 for a marijuana charge. He was arrested in January 2018 for third-degree domestic violence.

Other past charges include unlawful carrying of a firearm, various drug charges including possession and trafficking, failure to stop for blue lights, according to jail records.

His first booking into the Charleston County jail was when he was 18 in January 2009.

At that time, he was booked on two counts of unlawfully carrying a firearm.

Stephens was enrolled in program

Stephens was once enrolled in a program designed to help criminals to be successful on the outside. He was enrolled in the Turning Leaf project in 2014.

Officials who run the programs say only 19 percent of their graduates wind up being re-arrested. Turning Leaf officials say it’s impossible to save every single person who enrolls in the program.

Alzue “Blue” Fields is a success story.

Fields, a peer specialist at Turning Leaf spent 17 years in prison for homicide by child abuse before joining the program. Fields says he is proof that the program can work.

“It’s a situation where you have to continue to apply, make choices," Fields said."It’s not guaranteed that you’re gonna make the best choices. But we equip the guys with tools that can give them a better percentage of being successful.”

It’s important to point out that in 2014, Cary Stephens was sentenced to join Turning Leaf.

Now people who have been out of jail or prison for up to six months can either be recommended or join on their own.

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