South Carolina

‘One thing leads to another.’ 8 jailed in Lancaster guns, drugs, stolen puppies case

A police response to shots fired in Lancaster led to the arrest of eight people on charges ranging from attempted murder to meth trafficking and theft of pit bull puppies, police said.

Lancaster County deputies went to a home in the 1700 block of John Street on April 9 after a report that shots had been fired after a fight. The fight happened outside the house between three people who fled the scene in a car and the occupants of the house, according to the sheriff’s office.

Shots were fired into the ground and from the car as it sped from the scene, police said.

While investigating, detectives saw drugs in plain view inside the home, said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile. Police seized meth, Ecstasy, marijuana, Oxycodone, other prescription pills and drug paraphernalia, including scales, baggies and pipes, police said.

On April 11, police located one accused shooter from the shootout, Faile said. On April 12, police captured two others present during the shooting while in possession of three dogs that had been stolen in a separate case, officers said.

The recovered dogs were pit bull puppies, police said.

“This shots fired call quickly turned into a ‘one thing leads to another’ investigation,” Faile said in a statement. “It seems that every investigative step we took uncovered additional criminal activity and contraband.”

Here’s who was arrested in the incident and aftermath:

Dustin Eric Cauthen, 29, of Kershaw, and Tyler Lee Smith, 22, of Lancaster, are each charged with three counts of attempted murder in the shooting after the fight in the yard April 9.

Smith was the shooter in the yard and both men fired shots as the getaway car sped off, said Doug Barfield, sheriff’s office spokesperson.

Smith also is charged with possession of a gun during a violent crime and illegal carrying of a pistol.

Cauthen also is charged with possession of a gun during a violent crime and two drug charges. He is accused of stealing the three dogs during an unrelated case.

Both Cauthen and Smith are being held without bond at the Lancaster County jail.

Asia Danielle Oliver, 29, of Lancaster, was the third person with the two gunmen in the shooting, Barfield said. Oliver was the getaway driver after the shooting and was involved in the dog theft, he said.

Oliver faces two drug charges and was arrested for possession of the stolen puppies.

According to police, Stephen Lucas Amerson, 20, Jessica Lynn Hensley, 39, Jason Stuart Merritt, 36, Rachael Ann Perry, 37, and Jerry Gene Williams, 35, all of Lancaster, were arrested April 9 at the home where the drugs were found.

Each is charged with trafficking methamphetamine and four other drug charges.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer