CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The man accused of killing the son of a Mount Pleasant worship leader took another step toward going to trial Wednesday.
A judge ruled Wednesday during a preliminary hearing that there was enough probable cause to move forward with the charges of murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and first-degree burglary levied against Da'qintez Jermont Gadsden, 18.
Michael Bryan Cooke, 41, known as Bryan, was pronounced dead at the scene in February and died from gunshot wounds following an attempted robbery.
His father Michael Cooke was also shot multiple times, including in the face.
The family says the attempted robbery and shooting was random, and the father-son pair happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.They added it was a tragedy they never expected.
The shooting happened February 23, 2018 at a home in North Charleston.
According to Charleston County Sheriff's Office detective Will Muirhead, Michael and Bryan Cooke were at 3030 Matipan Avenue doing renovations to help local veterans in need. Muirhead said that's when Gadsden and co-defendant Aaron White entered the home and shot both Cooke men.
"A family is the smallest part in a community. My family has gotten me through a lot of this," Michael Cooke said after the preliminary court hearing. "One day at a time, one step at a time."
"I found a brother in spite of tragedy. As we move on together, I'll be here not only with Mike but with the entire family," North Charleston pastor Thomas Dixon said of his newly found relationship with the Cooke family.
As responding officers began their investigation after the shooting, a nearby witness told officers two school-aged black males were in the area during the time of the shooting.
"Directly across the neighborhood where the incident occurred is Greg Mathis Charter High School," Muirhead said. He explained detectives went to the school and asked about late students that day and were shown surveillance footage of both suspects. "We found co-defendant Aaron White and today's defendant Da'qintez Gadsden came to school late that day at 11:07."
Muirhead said Gadsden left school shortly after arriving late. White, however, was still there and Muirhead said he gave a post miranda confession. In that confession, White said the duo intended to rob the Cooke's and, instead, Gadsden shot both men.
Detectives conducted a search warrant on Gadsden's bedroom. There, they found khaki pants that, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, had Bryan Cooke's DNA on them.
Gadsden was not in court for the preliminary hearing today.
"He's in good spirits and maintains his innocence," Gadsden's representative Jerod Frazier said. "I'll be visiting him shortly, let him know what happened and we'll keep moving forward with the case."
As for White, he waived his right to a preliminary court hearing. His case will go to trial, as well.
Frazier says the next stop will most likely be a bond hearing. He said Gadsden will be present for that hearing.