Eutawville mayor places police chief on paid leave after fatal shooting

EUTAWVILLE, SC (WCSC) - The Town of Eutawville says it has now put Police Chief Richard Combs on paid administrative leave pending a state police investigation for his involvement in a deadly shooting.

Combs was just months into the job in Eutawville before the State Law Enforcement Division was called out to look into the shooting that happened Monday in front of the town hall.

"Chief Richard Combs has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation," said Eutawville Mayor Margaret Akers in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

[Read the full statement.]

Combs was the only member of the Eutawville Police Department. Akers said the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office will temporarily provide law enforcement services to Eutawville during the investigation.

Prior to working with Eutawville, the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy says Combs worked with the Elloree Police Department. Before that he was with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. The academy says he had been terminated from Orangeburg County.

According to a report released by the academy, Combs was terminated by the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office for violation of agency policy not involving misconduct, good character or moral turpitude.

The report goes on to state that examples of this type of termination include, "substandard performance, excessive absenteeism, sleeping on duty, etc."

Bernard Bailey, the 54-year-old man shot to death in front of the Eutawville Town Hall on Monday, was a retired corrections officer from a state facility in Dorchester County.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections says that for 22 years, from 1984 to 2006, Bailey worked at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville. The facility is a level three, all male facility that maintains death row for the entire state. A spokesman says he retired from the SCDC.

News of the deadly shooting traveled fast in the small town, which has a population of just 344 according to the last Census. Dozens of residents gathered near the scene in front of the town hall on Porcher Avenue following the shooting. They say the tan Chevy truck with the door left open on the side of the road belonged to Bailey.

Friends and family say Bailey was well-respected in the small town because he was a hard worker. They say after retiring as a corrections officer, he managed a Wal-mart in Summerville.

"We can't find jobs, but he wasn't one of those. He was educated. He has a family. He did everything right. I don't understand what's happened," Carol Gibbs said.

The Orangeburg County Coroner's Office performed Bailey's autopsy Tuesday. Results of the indicate that Bailey was shot twice in the chest and once in the shoulder.  His cause of death has been confirmed as a gunshot wound to the chest.

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