News briefs from around S.C.

“Hey, check out the safety on this (oops) …”

Lee County sheriff’s deputies say a Sanford man shot and killed himself while showing friends the safety of his new gun.

Deputies say the death of 23-year-old Randall Butler was an accident.

Capt. Jeff Johnson says there is nothing to indicate foul play.

Johnson says some friends were in Butler’s girlfriend’s home when he showed them the safety features of his .22-caliber pistol.

The captain says Butler showed them the safety and how the gun would not fire. Johnson says after Butler pulled the trigger and it didn’t fire, he showed them the slide action, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger again.

Johnson says Butler apparently failed to re-engage the safety.

Thief adapts and survives

A thief apparently got injured breaking into a Rock Hill church and stole a first aid kit, police say.

Someone broke into Eastside Baptist Church sometime overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday through a window, according to a police report.

The unknown suspect broke the kitchen window to get inside. Officers found blood near the window and bloody napkins left on the table. A first aid kit worth about $50 was stolen.

Also taken was about $10 worth of chips and cookies.

A church member told police he knew of homeless women who have been breaking in around town and stealing food

No one has been arrested.

Man burns down his own house

A man accused of setting fire to his own home earlier this week then filing a false police report about the fire has turned himself in, according to police reports.

Joseph Rangel, 40, told police on Tuesday that he left his home Monday and returned Tuesday to find the house had been burned, according to police reports.

Police saw the ash from the fire and notified detectives and the fire marshal’s office.

Rangel is charged with arson, burglary, and filing a false police report, according to police records.

Bike damaged; also, woman stabbed

A York woman was stabbed in the neck during a fight over a motorcycle outside a pizza shop, police say.

Terry Fields, Jr. was charged with attempted murder after police arrested him outside Olympia Pizza Saturday night, according to a police report. Fields was bleeding and carrying a knife when he was arrested near the restaurant.

The victim, 33, was reportedly trying to retrieve a motorcycle she sold to Fields that he owed months worth of payments on.

She tried to leave on the motorcycle when she was attacked by Fields, witnesses told police. When an employee at the pizza shop jumped in to stop the fight, Fields allegedly pulled out a knife. During the fight, he struck the woman in the neck.

The fight reportedly had to do with the motorcycle. The victim had sold the bike, but wanted to get it back because the buyer hadn’t made five payments.

She went to the sheriff’s office to discuss getting it back after the buyer hadn’t made any payments. An officer told her she’d need to see a judge because it was a civil matter, the report states.

After that, she reportedly met Fields at the pizza shop. Despite paying her a payment of $70, the victim told Fields she was leaving on the motorcycle. She was attempting to leave on the bike when the fight broke out.

About $1,500 in damages was done to the motorcycle when it fell to the ground during the fight.

Social media conquers all

Just days after Facebook yanked prison inmate Michael Maxwell’s two online pages, the convicted killer found a way back on the social networking site.

What’s more, Maxwell was apparently using Facebook to profess his love for another prison inmate who also is doing time in connection with a murder.

South Carolina prison officials say they have searched Maxwell and his cell but have found no evidence he is using a mobile phone to carry on his online activities.

“Our folks continue to monitor inmate Maxwell closely,” said Clark Newsom, spokesman for the department of corrections.

Maxwell, 28, is in the maximum-security Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, serving a prison sentence for killing a Goose Creek man with a shotgun in 2007. The prison system bans inmates from using the Internet or possessing a cell phone, but those devices are smuggled into correctional facilities anyway.

Somehow, Maxwell started two pages on Facebook. He piled up hundreds of friends and chatted about everything from pitbulls to guns.

Facebook pulled the pages last week after a newspaper began asking questions. But days later, Maxwell was back, this time setting his profile to private so only friends could follow his online posts.

Lorena Teseniar, the mother of Maxwell’s victim, was stunned to see him back and even more surprised to find he had been posting love notes to Katherine Feaster, who is serving time in Leath Correctional Institution in Greenwood.

Last year, Feaster was sentenced to eight years in prison after she pleaded guilty to burglary and misprision of a felony in connection with the killing of her former stepfather. He had vanished from his home in 2001 and his body was found six years later in a barrel buried in the yard of one of Feaster’s co-defendants in the case.

Maxwell posted poems and sweet nothings on Feaster’s page, referring to her as “wifey.” Among his offerings: “Baby u are the best woman ever no how stressed i am u make things so much better. I love u and cant wait till that special day when u become my wife for real. i love u and want the whole world to know it.”

Facebook removed Feaster’s page Thursday as well.

But will masks fit kitties?

Each year, up to 150,000 pets die in fires and more than 500,000 are affected by home fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Thanks to a new donation of pet oxygen masks, Lancaster County firefighters are hoping to reduce that number.

Invisible Fence, an organization that specializes in pet protection systems, began Project Breathe a few years ago with the goal of providing every fire department and rescue unit with pet oxygen masks.

So far, the organization has donated more than 10,000 to stations across the United States and Canada.

Now Lancaster County and its volunteer stations can add themselves to that list with the 18 pet oxygen masks from the organization.

David Holler, sales consultant for Invisible Fence of the Carolinas, said each oxygen kit contains three sizes — small, medium and large. The smallest size can fit breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, and the largest are made for mastiffs and similar breeds.

“The typical oxygen mask for humans doesn’t fit the frame of a dog’s snout,” he said.

The department is happy to have the masks, said Capt. Tony Gainer, but has not needed to use them yet.

Holler said Invisible Fence has received feedback from fire stations across the nation that have used the masks. A station in Ohio reported saving a dog’s life because they used one.

Glitches, glow sticks plague beauty pageant

The Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen pageant kicked off preliminary rounds Tuesday night at the Township Auditorium.

The 88 contestants have been split into three performance groups for the preliminaries. The groups will rotate — talent, evening and swimsuit for Miss S.C. and talent, evening and sportswear for Miss S.C. Teen — but each contestant will perform nightly. And six group winners will be named each night.

The winners will be crowned Saturday.

Miss Hampton, Anna Catherine English, tore ligaments in her left leg during a Tuesday morning rehearsal, but she still performed during her group’s talent segment. She was scheduled to dance, but instead she sang “Turning Tables,” a song with an appropriate title. She even survived one of the multiple technical glitches of the evening when her mic wasn’t turned up.

“Is this thing on?” she said after the music was stopped.

Miss Colleton County was allowed to perform her violin piece twice because of a sound issue that made her first attempt sound pitchy.

The opening included all the contestants wearing sequined dresses — and shoes — that appeared to be a golden metallic color in the stage lights. The stage itself was lit like an airport runway. Several people in the audience had glow sticks.

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