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A South Carolina man has been jailed on murder charges after allegedly randomly opening fire at cars over the long weekend, killing a vacationing 8-year-old and injuring his father, authorities said.
Charles Montgomery Allen, 40, was arrested in the murder of Quarius Naqua Dunham, 8, who was fatally shot while traveling in a vehicle with his family on Saturday, according to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. Dunham, who was from New Hampshire, was visiting South Carolina for Memorial Day weekend.
Allen was also charged with 11 counts of attempted murder and four separate weapons charges, online records show.
On May 28, deputies were dispatched to Old River Road near Florence — about 70 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach — after receiving reports of several shots fired. Upon arrival, law enforcement found Dunham, who had sustained serious gunshot wounds, and his father, who was shot in the leg
“Investigators allege that Allen fired multiple random rounds at passing vehicles,” the Florence County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on May 31.
Dunham was transported to a local hospital but was later pronounced dead, according to County Coroner Keith Von Lutcken. It’s unclear how many times the 8-year-old may have been shot. An autopsy in Charleston is now pending, officials said. His father, who police didn’t formally identify, was also taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and is expected to survive.
Allen was arrested a short time later after a short standoff with law enforcement at his home on Old River Road. No one was injured during that incident.
Authorities, who haven’t yet released a motive in the active investigation, said additional charges are possibly pending against Allen. No further information was available regarding the open case this week.
Dunham was a third grade student at Little Harbour School in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
"It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the sad news that one of our third grade students at LHS was killed this weekend," Portsmouth Superintendent of Schools Steve Zadravec said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com on Thursday. "His family was on vacation and were victims of a random shooting in South Carolina. An event like this touches our community as a whole. Our hearts are with the family as we support each other through this unbelievable tragedy."
The child’s sudden death shocked his family’s community.
"You go on vacation to make memories that last a lifetime with your kids, and for this tragedy to befall this family, I was just sick to my stomach," Portsmouth Mayor Deaglan McEachern also said in a statement, NBC 10 Boston reported.
The shooting unfolded less than week after a gunman stormed Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults, and only days before a shooter killed five at a medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"Gun violence is gun violence, but just to be driving down the road on vacation, and you have something like that, is just awful,” Tom Deschuytner, a father whose two children attend Portsmouth School District told NBC 10 Boston. “It really is. It's sad.”
Allen is being held without bond at a detention center in Florence County, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. It’s unclear if the 40-year-old has retained legal counsel to comment on his behalf. No court date information was immediately available for the Florence man this week.
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