WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Everyone on the streets of Walterboro is talking about Wednesday's confrontation between the wife of Colleton County Sheriff George Malone and his secretary Vivian Lingard, and the speculation surrounding what led to the fight.
"Rumors fly faster than the facts are coming out," said Billy Bruce, editor of the Colletonian newspaper.
Walterboro police say Pamela Malone confronted her husband and Lingard in a restaurant parking lot. Both women gave different versions of what happened before Lingard drove down the street with Mrs. Malone hanging onto the door of her car.
The sheriff's secretary hit a bump in a parking lot and ran over Mrs. Malone's leg with one of her back tires, according to officers. Mrs. Malone was treated at MUSC and released.
Bruce says for a small town paper, it's tough to report on a story that involves such a powerful person in the community.
"You've got the top law enforcement official in the county involved in a situation that you know is going to be difficult to get information about, so immediately you know you've got your work cut out for you," said Bruce.
The Malone-Lingard feud also is the buzz at Thurston's Barbershop.
Owner Libby Thurston says the incident hurts the city's reputation.
"It does because it puts another negative light on Walterboro," Thurston said. "There's a lot of good people out here. We're trying to see positive things in the news and what we're ending up seeing is more negatives from one of our officials."
Bruce says as long as Sheriff Malone stays silent, people will also be speculating about his future.
"How this is going to play out as far as his administration or any chance for his re-election, that's yet to be seen, the talk is already flying in all directions," he said.
"This is a story that has legs and it's something every media organization in the region is going to be paying attention to now, unfortunately for the community.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident. SLED will decide whether any charges will be filed.