Police: Ravenel Bridge shootings appear to have been suicide pac - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Police: Ravenel Bridge shootings appear to have been suicide pact

Source: SCDOT Source: SCDOT
Source: Bradley Skalak Source: Bradley Skalak

Mount Pleasant police say the two victims of a fatal shooting Thursday night both died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in what appeared to be a suicide pact.

In a press conference held Friday afternoon, police identified the victims Lindsey Bedenk, 24, and William Charles "C.J." Best, Jr., 30. 

"Last night, officers to the bridge to what was described initially as 'injured persons' involving more than one victim," Mount Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie said. He said responding officers found the two victims sitting slumped over in the pedestrian lane of the bridge between the diamonds.

Both victims were transported to MUSC where they were pronounced dead.

"Through our investigation, we were able to locate what we believe to be suicide notes and a video telling friends and loved ones goodbye from each of the two victims," Ritchie said.

Investigators believe Bedenk and Best met while receiving counseling for mental health issues and developed a friendship.

"And for a reason we may never know, [they] entered into what we believe was a suicide pact they carried out last night on the bridge," Ritchie said.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten called it a "very complicated and somewhat unusual tragedy." An autopsy was performed on both victims, and she said the preliminary results are consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"There is nothing at this point based on the autopsy findings and the investigation by my office, that this is anything more, even though it's tragic, than the chief has indicated," she said. "It appears to be a suicide pact where each individual made a decision to take their own lives and this was sort of done in tandem."

Wooten said she does not anticipate any changes in the findings, though they still have some additional details to investigate before the results are finalized.

Authorities defended the slow stream of information released to the media, saying they had an obligation to the victim's families to make sure their investigation was deliberate and thorough before any information released.

Police say the incident was an isolated and had no connection to Saturday's Bridge Run.

"What I want to do is assure everyone who is involved in tomorrow's Bridge Run that again, this was an isolated incident as best we can tell," Ritchie said. "There are no other people involved, we're not looking for anyone else, we don't suspect anyone else."

He said there are no known threats or perceived threats to the Bridge Run. 

Ritchie said his agency works with many other agencies working to make sure security is at its highest, but added that anyone who sees anything they feel is suspicious to reach out to the "numerous" officers who will be working the Bridge Run.

Reports of double shooting shut down part of Ravenel Bridge Thursday night

Thursday, Charleston County dispatchers said two people were shot in the walking lane of the bridge. The call came in at 7:58 p.m. and both the walking lane and northbound lanes headed from Charleston into Mount Pleasant were closed for nearly two-and-a-half hours.

"Based on the initial investigation, this does not appear to be a random shooting and at this time, we do not believe a suspect is at large," Mount Pleasant Police Investigator Chip Googe said in a statement at 10:32 p.m. "Both victims were transported to an area hospital and the investigation is ongoing."

Witnesses reported a heavy presence of first responders on the scene shortly after 8 p.m

The shooting happened just two days before the Cooper River Bridge Run, a race from Mt. Pleasant to downtown Charleston that more than 35,000 people are signed up to participate in. Organizers for the Bridge Run have not commented on the incident.  

A 2011 economic survey shows that the visitors coming to the area for the race offer a multi-million dollar boost to the local economy.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. Operators are waiting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also visit online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

For more information about suicide prevention, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website.

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