The following vignettes describe the circumstances for killings not ruled self-defense by private individuals with permits to carry concealed handguns. The incidents below all occurred in South Carolina. The descriptions include the current, known status of any charges filed against the concealed carry killer as reported by news sources as well as noting instances where the perpetrator committed suicide.
The Violence Policy Center welcomes any new information regarding the status of any case (with verifiable source(s)). Use this link to contact the VPC: http://www.vpc.org/contact.htm.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Bekki Gunter UNINTENTIONAL
Date: June 20, 2019
Total Killed: 1
Circumstances: On June 20, 2019, concealed handgun permit holder Bekki Gunter left her Glock pistol inside her purse that she placed on her bed before going to the bathroom. Within seconds, Gunter’s two-year-old grandson, Kayden Stuber, was able to unzip the purse, remove the pistol from a holster, and pull the trigger, shooting himself in the face. Despite attempts to stop the bleeding, Stuber died. Stuber’s grandfather Tim Gunter, who is also a concealed handgun permit holder, said, “we’re probably one of the safest families around as far as weapons.” He stated that both he and Bekki Gunter decided to carry guns in response to crime in the area. “No matter where you go, there’s crimes, so we decided to actually get our CWPs,” he said. After the shooting, Gunter said that he planned to get rid of all of his Glock pistols, stating that if the handgun had been designed with a manual safety, which Glock pistols do not have, it could have prevented the death. “That gun’s evil now as far as I’m concerned,” he said in reference to the pistol used in the shooting.
Source: “Family gripped with grief over shooting death of toddler: ‘It was an accident’,” greenvilleonline.com, June 21, 2019.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: James Lee Ginther III CONVICTED
Date: November 16, 2017
Total Killed: 1
Circumstances: On November 16, 2017, concealed handgun permit holder James Lee Ginther III, 26, allegedly shot and killed his ex-wife Suzette Ginther, 27, in Manchester State Forest. Investigators believe James Ginther kidnapped his ex-wife as she was leaving for work at a local PetSmart and took her to Manchester State Forest. Ginther allegedly made her get on her knees before allegedly shooting her in the head. She then fell face first into a hole in the ground where she was found by a hunter just hours after she had been reported missing for failing to show up at work. A warrant was issued for James Ginther’s arrest, and he was arrested in Kentucky following a traffic incident. A firearm was found in his possession reportedly matching the caliber of the weapon used to kill Suzette Ginther. He was charged with murder and kidnapping.
UPDATE: In April 2019, James Ginther III was found guilty of murder and kidnapping in the death of Susan Ginther. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Source: “’The more everything pointed to James’: Slain Sumterite’s father, boyfriend, speak about ex convicted in case,” theitem.com, April 16, 2019; “Sumter ex-husband’s hearing set in ‘execution-style’ slaying,” theitem.com, November 30, 2017.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Roger Dale Grate CONVICTED
Date: December 25, 2016
Total Killed: 1
Circumstances: On Christmas night 2016, concealed handgun permit holder, Roger Dale Grate, 53, shot and killed his nephew, Darrell Doctor, with a 45 caliber Ruger handgun during a family gathering outside a home in Loris, South Carolina. Grate stated that he and his stepson, Gregory Grate, had been in a verbal argument over Christmas presents when Doctor came over to ask what their dispute was about. The Grates testified that Doctor was intoxicated. The elder Grate said his nephew was asked to leave three or four times, but refused. Gregory Grate said that his stepfather had told Doctor to “stay out of it.” The younger Grate eventually tried to get Doctor to leave with him in his car. “I knew it was about to get heated,” he said. Roger Grate said Doctor approached him in a “fast-paced” aggressive manner and that Doctor reached into his pocket. Grate, who knew Doctor owned a gun, thought he was reaching for the weapon. He told police he intended to shoot over Doctor’s head to stop Doctor from coming at him, but the bullet hit Doctor in the forehead and exited through the back of his head. He died at the scene. When police arrived, Grate turned over his gun and carry permit. On the witness stand Grate said, “I didn’t know if he was going to shoot me….I knew what he was capable of.” Police at the scene searched Doctor’s body and did not find a weapon. On March 14, 2019, after spending two years on home detention, Roger Grate was found guilty of murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Source: “Jury says shooting wasn’t an accident, it was murder,” myhorrynews.com, March 14, 2019.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Greg Leon PENDING
Date: February 14, 2016
Total Killed: 1
Circumstances: On February 14, 2016, concealed handgun permit holder Greg Leon, 49, allegedly shot and killed an unidentified man who was sitting in the backseat of a pickup truck with Leon’s wife. The shooting was captured by a video surveillance camera in a commuter parking lot off I-20 in Lexington, SC. The victim was in the back seat of a Toyota Tundra pickup truck when he was struck by multiple bullets from a handgun. Leon’s wife was also in the backseat, but was not injured. Leon was on probation when the shooting occurred, and one of the conditions of his probation was that he not possess a gun or ammunition. According to warrants in the case, Leon was recorded on a 911 call as saying, “I shot my wife’s lover.” Leon was charged with murder, attempted murder, discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
UPDATE: In August 2021, the trial of Greg Leon was delayed until 2022.
Source: “SC Mexican restaurant owner murder trial delayed until 2022,” The State, August 6, 2021; “Greg Leon’s wife asks judge to let husband out of jail, even though he killed her alleged lover,” The State, February 19, 2016.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Michael Donovan Oswald SHOT AND KILLED BY POLICE
Date: September 8, 2014
Total Killed: 2 (including shooter)
Law Enforcement Officers Killed: 1
Circumstances: On September 8, 2014, police knocked on the door of concealed handgun permit holder Michael Donovan Oswald, 38, after neighbors complained about a drunken man beating on doors and cars. Using an AK-47-style assault rifle, Oswald fired through the door, killing Deputy Joseph Matuskovic, 45, and wounding Deputy Michael Ackerman, 43. Two off-duty sheriff’s deputies who lived in the apartment community had called for help knowing that the on-duty law enforcement personnel would have bullet-resistant vests, which they did not. One of the off-duty deputies who lived in the apartment complex helped return fire, and Oswald was later found dead of gunshot wounds. Oswald was known as a combative man with a long arrest history who frequently got into bar fights. In 2003, Oswald had been convicted for driving under the influence and hit and run with property damage.
Source: “Authorities: Man who shot deputies had military-style rifle, combative past,” Post and Courier, September 11, 2014; “After deputy killed in West Ashley, ‘incomprehensible’ night became even more difficult to bear,” Post and Courier, September 9, 2014.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Julian Deandre Battle CONVICTED
Date: December 25, 2009
People Killed: 1
Circumstances: On December 25, 2009, concealed handgun permit holder Julian Deandre Battle, 28, shot and killed Rafael Dodd, 29, following a confrontation outside a Greenville apartment building that involved relatives of Battle, guests at a holiday party, and Dodd. According to news reports, party guests were arguing outside the building when Dodd, a fellow concealed handgun permit holder whose permit was issued by Tennessee (which has reciprocity with South Carolina) came down the apartment’s staircase and outside to where the argument was occurring. One witness said that he saw Battle grab Dodd by the collar and shoot him. Battle then reportedly mocked Dodd’s wound as a “graze wound” and took the witness’ cell phone so that he couldn’t call 911. In court Battle claimed that Dodd had actually threatened him, and, noting his jewelry, told Battle he could kill him because he was from out of town. Battle claimed that he shot Dodd because he feared being robbed and explained that he knocked the cell phone out of the witness’ hand because he feared that it was a gun. Lying next to Dodd’s body was a fully loaded handgun that Dodd carried. Battle claimed that Dodd was shot when Dodd pointed his gun at Battle’s face. Battle than stated that he turned the gun back at Dodd but that he didn’t know whose hand actually pulled the trigger. Although Battle’s first trial resulted in a mistrial, the jury in the second found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.
Source: “Man gets life in fatal shooting retrial,” The Greenville News, November 18, 2011.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Matthew Scott Miller PENDING
Date: July 29, 2009
People Killed: 1
Circumstances: On July 29, 2009, Matthew Scott Miller, 30, allegedly shot and killed Ross Christopher Vigeant, 38, at 10:54 PM in the drive-through lane of a McDonalds fast food restaurant. Vigeant, a father of three, was on a two-day vacation in Myrtle Beach. According to a warrant filed in the case, the two were in the restaurant’s drive-through lane when Miller began arguing with Vigeant about moving his vehicle. Vigeant pulled his vehicle up leaving space for Miller to exit, got out of his car, and then approached Miller’s vehicle, where they continued to argue. Vigeant then punched Miller. Witnesses heard a “pop,” and Miller drove away from the restaurant at a high rate of speed through the space Vigeant had earlier made for him. Vigeant, shot in the chest, staggered back to his vehicle, collapsed, and eventually died from his wound. Miller was arrested the next morning at his home, where police found a 9mm handgun. “My heart breaks for that family,” said Miller’s mother, “That poor man’s family and their kids have no father and we have probably lost a son. It’s very sad.” Miller obtained a concealed handgun permit after being assaulted and hospitalized three years earlier. “He believed in people’s rights to have guns,” his mother said, “I told him, ‘I wish you wouldn’t carry that with you.’ If he hadn’t, things would be different. But if he didn’t he may have been beaten up again.” Said Miller’s father, “For the most part he’s been a great kid. All boys are boys. But this all comes back to his interest in carrying a concealed weapon.” Matthew Scott Miller was charged with voluntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Source: “Myrtle Beach man charged in shooting death at McDonalds released from jail,” myrtlebeachonline, August 12, 2009; “Parents say prior attack may have weighed on homicide suspect,” myrtlebeachonline, July 31, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: James Forrest Mobley SUICIDE
Date: May 10, 2007
People Killed: 3 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On May 10, 2007, James Forrest Mobley shot and killed two fellow workers at a Best Buy construction site before turning his handgun on himself. Mobley had overheard the two co-workers discussing him, including one who called him crazy. Mobley grabbed his handgun from his lunch pail and shot the two men 14 times before shooting himself in the head. During the incident he stopped to reload so that he could continue shooting. Mobley had been convicted of marijuana possession in 1975, had an animal complaint, and was subject to a breach of peace charge. Investigators confirmed that Mobley possessed a concealed handgun permit.
Source: “How Thursday’s construction site shooting rampage unfolded,” Island Packet (Hilton Head, SC), May 12, 2007; “Gunman killed 2 after being called ‘crazy,’” The Myrtle Beach Sun-News (South Carolina), May 12, 2007.