Coroner IDs 2 people found dead in Allen Benedict Court apartment complex


    Richland County Coroner Gary Watts has identified the name of the two individuals who were found dead inside of the Allen Benedict Courts apartment complex Thursday.

    According to the coroner, 30-year-old Derrick Roper and 61-year-old Calvin Witherspoon were both found dead inside of separate apartment units of the J building.

    At this time the coroner has not released the cause of death for the men.

    See original story below.

    2 found dead inside of apartment complex, Columbia Fire HAZMAT team investigates

    by: Andrea Butler

    The Columbia Fire Department and Richland County Coroner's Office are currently investigating after two people were found dead inside of a home Thursday morning.

    Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said police were called to a unit in the J building of the Allen Benedict Courts apartments around 9:30 a.m. for a welfare check. Holbrook said someone was concerned when the individual did not show up for work.

    After officers found the first person's body inside, Holbrook said police received a second call about a welfare check -- also in the J building. After the discovery of the second body, fire officials were called to investigate.

    According to Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, once fire officials arrived at the scene they discovered a suspicious odor and called for a HAZMAT investigation.

    "Obviously, things were airing out, so we didn't measure any lethal doses," Jenkins said. "However, that's not to say that is not what happened."

    Investigators said the apartment units rely on natural gas, and they have not ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning.

    According to the Columbia Fire Department, crews responded to seven reports of gas leaks at Allen Benedict Court in 2018.

    Gregory Boyd, who also lives there, said he recently reported a gas leak that was fixed. He said he could smell a gas odor before emergency crews arrived Thursday morning.

    "It's sad that this happened," Boyd told WACH FOX.

    Richland County Coroner Gary Watts confirmed two people were found dead inside of the home however their identities have not been released.

    At this time details are limited however officials do not believe that there is any danger to the public or people living in the area.

    WACH FOX reached out to the Columbia Housing Authority about what happened. As of Thursday evening, the agency had yet to respond.

    The Columbia Police Department was also called to assist with the investigation.

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