Man charged in killings

LIBERTY — A Liberty man faces two murder charges in connection with a shootout that left two family members dead at a Liberty apartment complex last month.

Benjamin James Pilgrim, 32, of 817 Rice’s Creek Road, who had been hospitalized since the Oct. 10 incident at Forestview Apartments, was arrested last Thursday upon his release from the Roger C. Peace Rehabilitiation Center in Greenville and charged with two counts of murder, as well as one count of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Houston Chapman, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime, while Steven Chapman, 42, was later pronounced dead at Baptist Easley Hospital, according to Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley.

According to arrest warrants, police believe Pilgrim went to the apartment where the shooting occurred with a pistol and shot Houston Chapman multiple times. Although the investigation allegedly revealed Houston Chapman returned fire, striking Steven Chapman, Pilgrim was charged with murder in Steven Chapman’s death as well because he “caused the death,” according to a warrant.

Kelley said Houston Chapman was Steven Chapman’s nephew.

According to Liberty police chief Adam Gilstrap, Pilgrim was engaged to marry into the Chapman family and had been staying in the same apartment building.

Gilstrap said Pilgrim and Houston Chapman had an ongoing dispute for months, and investigators believe the dispute is what led to the shooting between the two men.

Pilgrim was airlifted to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after the shooting, according to Gilstrap.

Gilstrap said officers received a 911 call just before 2:30 p.m. about the shooting.

Upon arrival, police found Steven Chapman and Pilgrim laying on the ground in the parking lot suffering from gunshot wounds and Houston Chapman laying on the sidewalk leading to an apartment building, according to a police report.

“Civilians were trying to render aid to all three subjects,” the report said.

The reporting officer said he saw a family member kneeling over Houston Chapman with a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun sticking out of his back pocket. When the officer removed the gun from the family member’s pocket, the family member said the gun belonged to Houston, according to the report.