BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Police say a fatal shooting Tuesday night at a Moncks Corner home was justified because the homeowner was protecting his family from a home invasion.
Police Chief Rick Ollic told reporters Wednesday afternoon their investigation revealed a man the Berkeley County Coroner identified as Elijah A. White, Jr., 30, forced his way into a home on Post Oak Court off Highway 52. White was armed with a handgun and wearing a mask and gloves, he said.
"We also retrieved from him rope, which I believe he was going to tie up the victims if he got into the residence, so there was no doubt he was there to do some serious harm to this family," Ollic said.
The homeowner fired his gun when White burst into the home, fatally striking him, Ollic said.
Police also arrested a woman they say went to the door posing as a representative of a homeowner's association and was wearing a fake badge that read, "HOA."
Juanita Marie English is charged with first-degree burglary and criminal conspiracy, Ollic said. She was in bond court Wednesday night where she received a $125,000 bond.
Ollic was also present during the bond court hearing and told the judge that he believes English is a "threat to society."
"[The victims] are absolutely traumatized," Ollic told the judge."The female victim, it's unbelievable what she went through last night."
In addition, Ollic said the victim's two young children witnessed the home invasion and shooting.
Police say English spoke to the resident about the neighborhood, then signaled to White, who ran to the door and forced his way in.
The victim told police he was holding a handgun with a laser pointer.
As she tried to close the door, White kicked in the door, breaking the door frame and knocking the locking device off and forced his way inside, Ollic said.
According to court records, the victim's husband then came downstairs armed with a gun and shot White who was found dead in the front yard.
"The homeowner at that location, protecting his family, returned fire at the subject, and killed him as a result of the incident," Ollic said.
Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said an autopsy on White is still underway, but confirmed he was struck four times.
Salisbury said the manner of death would be ruled a homicide, but added it would be ruled justifiable.
"In Berkeley County, if you kick someone's door in and you get shot, as long as I'm the coroner, that's going to be a justifiable homicide," Salisbury said.
Ollic said investigators believe the homeowner acted in self-defense and that the killing was justified.
Ollic said the residents of the community are safe because the suspects specifically targeted the residents of the home.
He said police were still investigating whether there was any connection between the residents and the suspects.
English was connected to the incident because she had been the subject of a traffic stop Tuesday night on Highway 52 after officers saw her driving erratically shortly after the incident.
Ollic said officers did not know at the time she might have a connection to the home invasion, but said she was positively identified by the homeowner as the woman who had come to the door. Ollic said a search warrant of the vehicle provided evidence that linked her to the address.
English had an outstanding warrant in Summerville.
White had what Ollic described as "an extensive felonious criminal record," including drug violations, breaking into motor vehicles, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and inciting a riot while incarcerated. White's charges were filed by authorities in Goose Creek, Summerville, North Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties and the state Department of Corrections, he said.
Police said they are continuing to investigate the incident and would increase patrols in the normally-quiet neighborhood to reassure residents they are safe.
Police responded to the home around 8:15 p.m. for a burglary in progress and found White's body outside the home on the sidewalk.
Authorities say a couple and their child were in the home when they called 911 to report someone had tried to get in their home. Police say shots were then exchanged in the incident.
Moncks Corner Police are searching for a woman seen at the time of a reported home burglary that ended in a fatal shooting Tuesday night.
An autopsy for White is scheduled for Wednesday morning, Salisbury said.
Police say a woman who was seen at the time of the incident left the scene in a dark-colored vehicle.
MCPD officials are investigating the case with the coroner's office and the solicitor's office to determine if charges will be brought in the case.
Ollic indicated they are in the early stages of the investigation and are determining what led up to the incident. He said detectives were interviewing the family inside the home.
Officers were seen taping a portion of the road off as emergency crews worked the scene. In addition, tape was seen being placed around a home.
Authorities had said earlier they believed it might have been a shooting in a possible home invasion.
Viewers reported seeing police activity in the area around 9 p.m.
A witness said emergency crews had arrived on scene and found a body near the front yard of a home.
Anyone with information should contact Moncks Corner Police at 843-719-7900 or Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111.