An early morning murder has rocked the city of Charleston, South Carolina – fueling anger over deteriorating public safety in the Holy City under second-term mayor John Tecklenburg.
The murder took place on the corner of King and Clifford Streets in downtown Charleston shortly after 6:00 a.m. EDT on Friday morning (July 17, 2020). Charleston police are investigating the homicide with support from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Tom DiLorenzo – husband of Suzanne Austin, the newly installed provost at the College of Charleston – was fatally shot as the couple was taking a morning walk, per our law enforcement sources. He later succumbed to his wounds at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
Austin began her tenure at the college just a few weeks ago – on July 1, 2020. She was hired after spending nine years as the senior vice provost at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
DiLorenzo, 63, was a retired educator – serving until recently as provost at the University of North Dakota (UND).
This news outlet was furnished with DiLorenzo’s identity earlier this morning by our police contacts, however we withheld publication of that information – not wishing to preempt a release from the office of Charleston county coroner Rae Wooten.
His name was later published by reporters Sara Coello and Jenna Schiferl of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
Charleston police issued a statement on Friday afternoon.
“About 6:15 a.m., a couple was walking near the intersection when they were approached by two black males,” the statement read. “One of the males was armed with a handgun and demanded money from the couple. The husband was shot during the robbery attempt and he died later at MUSC. The wife was not physically injured.”
No arrests or suspects were initially announced in connection with the slaying. On Friday afternoon, Charleston police issued a BOLO – or “be on the lookout”- notice via Twitter.
The vehicle – a silver, 2005 Acura TL with the South Carolina license plate SPM 409 – was “involved in the incident” according to police.
“At this time it is believed the vehicle was occupied by three black males possibly in their mid-to-late teens,” the BOLO added.
As the search for the perpetrators continued, citizens already livid with Tecklenburg’s previous accommodation of violence in the city left no doubt as to who they are holding responsible.
“Blood is officially on John Tecklenburg’s hands,” one of the mayor’s critics told us.
“Tecklenburg has lost control,” another told us. “It’s bad when you can’t take a morning walk in one of the safest places in downtown Charleston.”
Formerly safest places …
Tecklenburg issued a statement on the slaying shortly after 1:00 p.m. EDT, calling it a “cruel act of violence that has no place in our city.”
According to the mayor’s statement, the murder was “a tragic, isolated incident” and police chief Luther T. Reynolds and his men were “working hard to identify the perpetrators.”
“Neither the city of Charleston nor our police department will rest until the people who committed this terrible crime have been brought to justice,” Tecklenburg said.
The murder comes at the worst possible time for the Holy City, which is still reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and recent rioting in its historic shopping district.
Racial tension is also lingering … driven in no small part by Tecklenburg’s ongoing campaign to scrub the city of much of its history.
How on earth is Charleston’s tourism economy expected to rebound under these conditions?
Just this week, in fact, Tecklenburg threatened to lock the city down (again) as coronavirus cases climbed.
While the mayor’s critics pointed to his ongoing refusal to act decisively in the interests of public safety, the Post and Courier – which has been staunchly supportive of Tecklenburg – cranked up the propaganda organ.
“Robberies, shootings and other violent crime are uncommon in the central tourism district,” Coello and Schiferl reported. “Police keep a steady presence in the area and portions of King Street and the bustling Charleston City Market hub are under the watchful eye of surveillance cameras. Still, crime does occur on occasion.”
Coello in particular ought to know better than that. She was downtown during the violent rioting in late May and saw with her own eyes the failure of city police (ostensibly acting on Tecklenburg’s orders) to take action in defense of King Street businesses.
“Nobody’s getting arrested tonight,” one officer said to another, per one of Coello’s tweets on the evening of May 30. “There’s no accountability.”
Clearly there still isn’t …
UPDATE || At least one of the suspects in connection with this shooting has reportedly been apprehended in North Charleston, S.C.
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