Police in Richland County, South Carolina have made at least two arrests in connection with a shooting at a local park on Saturday night where several hundred teens and young adults had gathered for a “flash party” promoted on social media, and authorities say at least one of the two teens taken into custody was already well known to local authorities.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott excoriated the state’s bond system in response to the shooting, noting that the two men who’ve been arrested have already been able to bond out, despite the fact that one of them has been arrested on multiple occasions this year for illegal gun possession.
Lott said the two teenagers who were arrested after the shooting — 19-year-old Miquise Fulwiley and 18-year-old Ty’Quan Kelly — are already back out on the streets after making bond. Lott added this was Kelly’s third time in less than a month being out on bond in connection to a gun offense.
Kelly was arrested on March 1st and again on April 16th for illegally possessing a firearm, but despite those charges as well as his current charge of illegal possession of a pistol he was once again allowed to bond out over the weekend after he was given a $10,000 surety bond. Fulwiley was also given a $10,000 bond and has since been released from jail; a fact that has the sheriff livid.
“We’re still in the middle of an investigation and our bond court magistrate gives him a personal recognizance bond and just lets him go.” said the sheriff.
Kelly was already out on a $50,000 bond on an unlawful carry charge from March. He was given a $10,000 bond following the shooting on Saturday.
“Why would someone who’s already out on a $50,000 and another $250 bond get one even lower at $10,000?” Lott asked. “It’s hard to follow the logic with that.”
Lott went on to say Fulwiley and Kelly are both an example of how catch and release puts the entire community at risk.
He also called the suspects who were released a “major crack in our justice system,” but said anyone else involved will be caught.
Several other arrests are coming, according to Lott, but he would not go into detail about that part of the investigation.
At this point neither Fulwiley or Kelly have officially been charged with any of the shootings that took place at Meadowlake Park, which helps to explain why their bonds were set at such a low level. Still, given that Kelly has now been arrested three times in less than two months for illegally possessing a firearm it’s fair to question why the justice system still refuses to see him as a threat to the community at large, and the fact that Kelly’s bond for his third alleged offense is $40,000 lower than the bond for his first arrest back in March is simply inexplicable.
As South Carolina lawmakers have debated a constitutional carry bill this year, one of the main objections we’ve heard from opponents is that the law will make it easier for guys like Kelly to unlawfully carry a gun around. What this most recent arrest demonstrates, however, is that those who are caught illegally possessing a firearm right now are getting cut loose with little or no consequences. Despite multiple arrests over a period weeks, Kelly apparently still felt emboldened and empowered to pick up another gun this past weekend. Forget about adding any new gun control laws to the books. What South Carolina really needs is an overhaul of the criminal justice system. If lawmakers don’t have the courage or convictions to address the fundamental flaws evident in cases like Kelly’s, at the very least they can ensure that law-abiding people have the means and the ability to protect and defend themselves from the career criminals who the courts keep returning to the streets.