Elderly man attacked by 14-year-old outside Walterboro post office

WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Representatives for the city of Walterboro have not issued an official statement in regards to an elderly man who had his skull bashed in by two teens Saturday.

According to a police report, 72-year-old Vance Theron Lawhon was outside the Walterboro Post Office when two African-American teen boys attacked him with a brick.  The report says one of the suspects, a 14-year-old Colleton County High School student, was caught shortly after the attack.  The boy now faces charges of assault with intent to kill, conspiracy to commit a crime, obstructing a law enforcement officer and attempted armed robbery.

The second suspect has not been caught.

According to those close to him, Lawhon was taken to the Medical University of South Carolina for bleeding in his brain.

"Everybody [in town] is on pins and needles," said Sarah Siner, a friend of Lawhon and Walterboro resident.  "You just try not to let your guard down, but it's the Post Office for cryin' out loud!"

While police have yet to name an exact motive for the crime, residents fear it could be gang-related.  According to official Colleton County statistics for 2009, 11 people were killed in Walterboro in a series of gang-related shootings.

"Every small town has problems like [Walterboro] does," said David Evans, a local business owner.  "The difference between us and them is how they are handled after they happen, which is why [violence] is getting out of control here."

Evans, like other residents, points a finger to Walterboro City Hall.  Evans says despite violence being an on-going issue, local officials have dragged their feet in proactive measures; Evans says to the best of his knowledge programs like community watches, symposiums, and hotlines are "non-existent."  Evans says with City Hall not engaged in community happenings, locals feel discouraged at the thought of getting involved on their own terms.

"The community is afraid to step in.  You see [violence] going on, and you are afraid to step in," said Evans.  "If you do get somebody who is willing to stand up... inevitably, it is like you are stepping on someone's toes.  Inevitably, somebody feels like you are stepping out of line."

Gary Davis, another local business owner who operates across the street from the post office, echoes such statements.

"[The residents of Walterboro] are all concerned citizens," said Davis.  "We just want to know what our law officials are doing about it."

Calls placed to all Walterboro City Council members on Monday, March 8, were either not returned or answered with comments ranging from those not concerned with the attack at this time, or completely unaware of the situation.

Representatives for the mayor's office say they have no official statement on the issue.  Representatives were unable to confirm immediate plans to deal with such matter either.

The captured suspect is being held in the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.