Charleston police have released surveillance footage from the shooting of 17-year-old Marley Lion and are asking the community to help identify a suspect and a person of interest in the investigation.
Marley Lion, a recent graduate of Academic Magnet High School, was shot inside his Nissan Pathfinder early Saturday morning in the parking lot by Famous Joe's Bar and Grill at 1662 Savannah Highway, and around 4:05 a.m., police found him lying on the ground beside the vehicle. Lion was still alive at the time, and he told an officer he had been sleeping in the car because he was too intoxicated to drive home. He said two black males walked up to the vehicle and one of them shot him five times before they left the parking lot on a gravel path toward Yew Street.
The video shows someone walking up to the vehicle, doing something near the driver's-side front door, and then leaving the scene when the vehicle's headlights start flashing on and off. Detective Richard Burckhardt, the lead investigator in the case, says this is the point where Lion presses a button on a key fob to trigger the vehicle's alarm system. About 20 seconds later, someone approaches Lion's car with a gun and fires several times.
Police say the gunman is a black male who appears to be taller than the vehicle, putting him in the range of 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall. He has a medium to stocky build and was wearing a striped or checker-patterned shirt at the time of the murder, and he fled on foot toward the Ardmore neighborhood afterward, according to the police investigation.
"Obviously what you saw there is the best piece of evidence that we have," Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said of the video footage in a press debriefing. "What we also recognize is that there's somebody in our community today that can help us identify who that person is who committed this crime."
Earlier in the pre-dawn hours, about 20 minutes before the shooting took place, the same surveillance camera captured footage of a man striding briskly across the parking lot. This man, described as a black male in a long white T-shirt wearing dark baggy shorts and black flip-flops over white socks, is considered a person of interest in the case and is not a suspect at this time. Police are also requesting help with finding him.
"Based on our review of the scene, interviews with multiple individuals, and examinations of video of the event, there is no indication that this crime was anything other than random, senseless violence," Mullen said at the press debriefing. "There is nothing to indicate that Marley was involved in any behavior which would be associated with this crime or knew his attackers."
Burckhardt said investigators have been able to assemble a narrative of Lion's last day and his final moments. "From right now, it has all the appearance of a very horrendous attempted robbery ending in a homicide," he said.
Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. urged anyone who "might have any information, any ideas, a hunch, a rumor" to contact the Charleston Police Department. "The fact is, of course, that this brutally mean, outrageously lawless hoodlum will harm someone again," he said. "A person like this doesn't care. They have no morals. They have no sense of justice, and we must bring this person to justice. That's what we owe the memory of this very fine young man."
According to ABC News 4, a visitation service for Lion is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the St. James Episcopal Church Ministry Center on James Island (1872 Camp Road).