CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County Sheriff's office's new forensics lab does a number of of things, from pulling finger prints, to testing guns and shell-casings, to storing almost 40,000 pieces of evidence. The 13,000 square foot facility is a multi-faceted department, with one goal: bringing justice to light.
The department, made up of nine people, moved to a new facility in March, tripling the size of its building.
Sergeant Shawn James recognized the importance of what sits inside the new facility.
"Evidence tells a story, and evidence doesn't lie," said Sergeant James.
From the initial stage, at evidence drop-off, he said the men and women understand solving crimes is not an option, but a priority.
The building houses things like the super glue chamber that helps investigators pull fingerprints.
"The super glue adheres to the moisture," said Sergeant James pointing to evidence inside. "This was a knife that was wrapped in a shirt."
Also inside the work bay, is an area where investigators pull serial numbers from altered guns.
Though a process of filling, buffering and laying down acid, the once stripped number appeared clear as day.
The test fire room, just down the hall, is one of only two places in the state where shell-casings from guns can be entered in the ballistics system, scanned and studied to help find matches across the country.
"You take the shell casing you get from here in the test fire and you're able to actually match it up and know that all these shootings were linked," said Sergeant James.
In the evidence storage, thousands of pieces of evidence fill the shelves. The oldest one dates back to 1971. It's an area where Sergeant James says the department appreciates the extra space in the new building.
It allows the department to store guns, drugs and much more.
"Homicide evidence is the only evidence that we have, that we don't have anybody to speak for," said Sergeant James. At this point, we have to speak for the victims, because this is people's last moments in a box."
Homicide evidence is reminder that each area in the forensics department is crucial, from pulling serial numbers off of guns to studying shell-casings from bullets, so the lives aren't left without answers.