Shaw AFB airman charged in fatal SC restaurant shootings is granted bond

By ALEX LANG | The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) | Published: December 15, 2020

MYRTLE BEACH. S.C. (Tribune News Service) — A friendly card game inside a Myrtle Beach restaurant turned deadly when suspects stormed the business, forced the victims against a wall and then shot them on an October morning.

On Oct. 12, police responded to a shooting inside Allen's Food Basket off U.S. 501. Details have been scarce on what happened inside the restaurant. But investigators released additional information during a bond hearing on Tuesday.

Samuel Frye, a U.S. Air Force member, was in Horry County court for a hearing. Frye appeared by video from J. Reuben Long Detention Center, where he has been held since his October arrest. Police charged him with two counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in connection to the incident.

Assistant Solicitor James Stanko said there was a poker game at the restaurant. Around 4 a.m., a group entered the restaurant and lined the eight people inside against a wall. Then several people started shooting.

Seven people were shot, including Darius Hemingway, who died at the scene. Antonio Woods died days later from his injuries in the shooting.

"Immediately after the shooting stopped, all the assailants ran out of the restaurant and got into at least two vehicles and headed right back to Sumter," Stanko said.

Frye — who was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter — owned one of the vehicles, investigators say. The day after the shooting, Frye tried to get rid of the vehicle and then reported it stolen, Stanko said.

Frye then lied to Myrtle Beach police in their investigation, Stanko said.

There was a robbery days before the shooting, Stanko said, and the suspects came to the restaurants because they believed people involved with the robbery were at the eatery.

Defense attorney Garryl Deas vehemently denied his client had a gun or pulled the trigger.

"He was not the person who injured or shot these individuals," Deas said. "The individuals who actually committed the shooting are still at large."

Two other people have been charged in connection to the shooting. Lonnell Damon Duckett Jr., 20, of Rembert, was charged with eight counts of accessory after the fact to a felony or murder. On Saturday, Myrtle Beach police announced the arrest of Mardave Dawoo Hunter, who was charged with two counts of murder, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, and five counts of attempted of murder.

The only evidence that connected Frye to the shooting was that his car was spotted on video surveillance after the shooting, Deas said.

His client returned to the base and was arrested as he reported for work the next day, Deas said. There was no gunshot residue found on Frye after the shooting, his lawyer said.

Frye, 22, grew up in New Jersey and has a minimal criminal history, Deas said. He added Frye received an Air Force commendation for helping police after he witnessed a hit-and-run when a driver struck a bus and fled the scene.

Deas said his client was not a flight risk, and he had the chance to flee after the crime, but instead reported to work.

Sadie Mae Woods, mother of Antonio Woods, spoke during the bond hearing. She appeared via a cellphone as COVID-19 protocols try to limit the number of people in Horry County court.

The shooting has been difficult for Antonio Woods' children, his mom said.

She said she hoped that Frye would remain behind bars.

"Please do not let him out on bond because I feel he is a danger to society," Sadie Mae Woods said.

However, Judge Benjamin Culbertson granted a $200,000 bond to Frye. If he posts the amount, he will be free as he awaits trial on the case.

The police investigation continues and more arrests are possible.

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