GREENWOOD (AP) — The South Carolina man who killed five people before shooting himself lied to relatives about having a court hearing the day of the slayings, investigators said Friday.
Earlier this week, Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis told reporters that Bryan Sweatt, 27, had skipped a Tuesday hearing on a pending burglary charge. That’s the day that authorities say he shot the mother of his infant daughter, her parents and two other children before turning a gun on himself.
But in a statement provided Friday to The Associated Press, Davis said he disclosed that information based on what Sweatt’s relatives said the man had told them before killing himself.
“It has been confirmed that Bryan Eugene Sweatt was not scheduled for a court appearance in Greenwood General Sessions court at any time this week on his pending burglary charge,” Davis said. “We now know that this information originated from Bryan Sweatt himself to the family members, and is not true.”
Police say Sweatt broke into his girlfriend’s parents’ house Tuesday in Greenwood and waited for them and the girlfriend to come home.
The victims were identified as Richard Fields, 51; his wife, Melissa Fields, 49; their daughter Chandra Fields, 26; and two of the couple’s grandchildren who lived with them: William Robinson, 9; and Tariq Robinson, 11.
Davis hasn’t given a specific motive for the shootings but said it appears they stemmed from a “domestic violence situation.” At a Wednesday news conference, Davis said Sweatt felt that Chandra Fields wasn’t allowing him to see their infant child often enough.
Sweatt had a lengthy arrest record that dates back nearly a decade, according to state police records. Most of his charges were related to property crimes, such as burglary or forgery, although he was arrested once on aggravated assault charges.
Sweatt faced a possible life sentence if he was convicted on a first-degree burglary charge, according to Davis. Solicitor David Stumbo, the chief prosecutor for Greenwood County, confirmed that no hearings had been scheduled in Sweatt’s burglary case and that he had expected to try that case in the coming months.
“We were able to get together and talk yesterday,” Stumbo said of his conversation with the sheriff. “He was going off of what family members told him. We got that cleared up.”