Local sheriff reveals long-standing 'beef' between Vista shooting suspects
Newberry, S.C. (WACH) -- As more information is released on the suspects in Saturday morning's Vista shooting, Newberry Sheriff Lee Foster says they've been on his department's radar for a while.
"They're well known to us," said Foster. "They've been going back and forth at each other for almost a year now."
Sheriff Foster says the majority of the suspects, which include John Bates, Jr. Keveas Gallman, Jarvis Tucker and Maleik Houseal, are from the Newberry or Prosperity area and that the beef between the men is extensive. He says, before this year, the altercations were confined to small fights and skirmishes.
But Foster says that the criminal history of the four men foreshadowed the violent acts of this past Saturday, particularly that of Bates.
"He has been charged with several counts of assault and battery and attempted murder, doing similar situations to where he would shoot into a crowd of people," said Foster. "Within the past year, they've really ramped it up. Where they would get guns and show guns and they go into the neighborhood where the other group lives and just terrorize the neighborhood."
Foster says there have been several crimes, including some shootings, that the men have been involved in. But he cites the fear of people who know of the men and of coming forward that have hampered their efforts to put the men behind bars.
"Can't blame people for being scared; I would be, too," said Sheriff Foster. "Without a witness and without someone to cooperate, though, you've still got a crime but you cannot make a charge. And prosecutors cannot convict."
The Columbia Police Department arrested Bates, Gallman, and Tucker Saturday evening. The three appeared in bond court on Sunday. A judge granted Tucker a $250,000 bond and denied bond to Bates and Gallman.
The department is still seeking a vehicle of interest in the case, a 2008 BMW 3-series with SC license plate NLB-507.
"They have no regard for their fellow man," said Foster. "They need to face the justice system. And the justice system needs to treat them as the dangerous criminals they are."
Foster joins other law enforcement agencies in urging anyone with information to come forward, stressing that even anonymous tips can help aid police in the case. To do so, called Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.