South Carolina police fatally shoot showerhead-wielding double homicide suspect

South Carolina police fatally shoot showerhead-wielding double homicide suspect

A man who had beaten his mother and girlfriend to death inside a burning house and who reportedly told relatives he wanted to be killed by police was fatally shot by eight officers as he held a chrome shower head they thought was a gun, according to a police department presentation of evidence in the case.

Gary Pratt Whitten was out on bail — wearing an ankle monitor and under orders to stay away from his girlfriend’s home after pointing a gun at her in December — when he killed the women on Jan. 17, investigators told The Post and Courier newspaper.

Data from the monitor indicated Whitten was at the home in Greenville for several hours the day of the killing, but the company that keeps track of the ankle bracelet didn’t contact the sheriff’s office until Whitten removed it. The fire was reported 30 seconds later, authorities said.


Whitten’s family had called 911 in September saying he wanted to be killed by officers, according to a briefing video released Saturday by Greenville County Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Flood.

The video includes snippets of body camera recordings showing Whitten, 36, stepping out on the porch of a mobile home. Flood, who narrates the video, said deputies saw a chrome object in his hand. One deputy yelled “he’s got a gun” and dozens of shots were fired by the eight officers in about five seconds. The video includes a photo of the detachable chrome shower head.

Deputies had traced Whitten to the mobile home using a license plate reader and other investigative techniques after finding the bodies of Whitten’s 55-year-old girlfriend Anissa Henderson and 56-year-old mother Kelli Kaughman Whitten. Both women had been beaten and killed with a sharp object inside the home that was found burning hours earlier, investigators said.

Deputies said they spent 26 minutes trying to get him to surrender peacefully before the shooting.

Internal investigators have cleared the eight deputies of violating sheriff’s office policies, Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said. A state investigation that prosecutors will use to determine whether the shooting was justified continues.

The nine-minute police presentation includes about three minutes of audio from September, when a 911 caller asked deputies to check on Whitten, warning “his mental state is not good” and “he would initiate something to be killed by the law.”

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has a policy to release selected body camera recordings, 911 calls, police radio traffic or other evidence 45 days after a shooting involving deputies. It is one of the only agencies in the state to release such information. Most wait until investigations are complete and prosecutors have decided whether the shooting was justified.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *