Friday, September 12, 2014

West Ashley apartment shooting: A timeline

Eyewitness and official accounts depict a long, rainy night

Posted by Paul Bowers on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 1:59 PM

COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson

Monday night, a man living in the Gardens at Ashley River apartment complex opened fire on sheriff's deputies, leading to the death of one officer and the injury of another. Since it was an officer-involved shooting and at least one deputy returned fire, the incident is under investigation by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

Because of the ongoing investigation, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office has remained tight-lipped on some details of what took place that night. The following timeline is based on Sheriff's Office statements, the coroner's account, and the accounts of two witnesses who saw the events unfolding from nearby Building B of the Gardens at Ashley River.

click to enlarge Timestamps from the cell phone photos of Scott Wilson, a Gardens at Ashley River resident, were used to help assemble this timeline. - COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson
  • Timestamps from the cell phone photos of Scott Wilson, a Gardens at Ashley River resident, were used to help assemble this timeline.

7:36 p.m.: Two sheriff's deputies who live in the apartment complex try to make contact with a drunk and disorderly man named Michael D. Oswald, but Oswald refuses to come out of his apartment in Building G. The deputies do not have body armor, so they call for backup. Sheriff's Deputies Joseph J. Matuskovic and Michael S. Ackerman arrive at the Gardens at Ashley River, along with at least one trainee.

8:05 p.m.: Oswald shoots an AK-47-like weapon through his apartment door, according to Sheriff Al Cannon, piercing Matuskovic's soft body armor and striking Ackerman in the leg. At least one sheriff's deputy returns fire. Scott Wilson, a resident of Building B, counts about 15 gunshots with a few pauses.

8:10 p.m.: Within minutes, officers from area police departments and the S.C. Highway Patrol begin to descend on the apartment complex en masse. According to Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas, more than 100 officers arrive on the scene and help seal the perimeter. EMS transports Matuskovic to the Medical University of South Carolina.

click to enlarge Wilson watched events unfold Monday night from near his apartment in Building B. - COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson
  • Wilson watched events unfold Monday night from near his apartment in Building B.

8:37 p.m.: Matuskovic dies of his injuries at MUSC, according Coroner Rae Wooten.

9:26 p.m.: According to Wilson, a standstill begins at this point. Some officers have their guns unholstered; some are carrying assault rifles. There is little activity visible from Wilson's vantage point outside Building B.

11:11 p.m.: One of the SWAT vehicles arrives near Building B.

11:15 p.m. - 2 a.m.: Negotiators attempt to make contact with Michael Oswald, who has still not come out of his apartment. Eric Martin, a resident in Building B, hears several phrases being repeated over a loudspeaker, including "This is your last chance to come out," "Come out with your hands up," and "We have your apartment surrounded."

12 a.m.: Some of the officers begin relieving first responders of their posts, standing guard through intermittent downpours of rain.

1 - 4 a.m.: Residents hear sporadic unidentified "popping" noises, according to Wilson.

click to enlarge Wilson says he saw police struggling to drive a robot up the stairs to Oswald's apartment - COURTESY OF SCOTT WILSON
  • Courtesy of Scott Wilson
  • Wilson says he saw police struggling to drive a robot up the stairs to Oswald's apartment

2:45 - 3 a.m.: Officers begin setting up a robot brought in by a SWAT team and try to drive it up the stairs to Oswald's apartment, but rain causes the stairs to be slick and the robot falls back to the ground. Wilson takes cell phone pictures of the robot, which looks similar to robots used in bomb threat situations.

3:05 a.m.: Larry Britton, a Charleston County Technology Services and Radio Operations employee who helped set up law enforcement agents' radio communications at the scene of the shooting, dies of natural causes while working at the Public Works Department, according to Wooten.

3:15 a.m.: Officers make a second attempt at sending in the SWAT robot.

3:45 - 4 a.m.: Residents hear a loud noise, then see officers entering Michael Oswald's apartment. Oswald is found dead on the scene, according to the Sheriff's Department.

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