Man faces murder charges


Third gun-related death

in three weeks in county

CENTRAL — A Central man is being held without bond at the Pickens County Detention Center facing a murder charge after police said he shot and killed a man following an altercation.

Pickens County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Creed Hashe said a 911 call came in at around 8 p.m. last Thursday that there was a verbal altercation in the yard at a home at 111 Moser Trail in Central  and one of more of the people involved may be armed.

When deputies arrived less than 10 minutes later, they found a man, later identified as John Phillip Chitwood, 27, suffering from a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen. Chitwood was transported to AnMed Health in Anderson, where he later died, according to Pickens County deputy coroner Gary Duncan.

Although preliminary indications were that as many as seven people were present when the incident occurred, detectives arrested Benjamin Anthony Vinson, 53, who lives at the address where the shooting happened, on Friday morning and charged him with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Hashe said a shotgun recovered at the scene of the crime was believed to be the weapon used in the incident.

Chitwood’s death was the third shooting death in Pickens County in as many weeks.

In the early morning hours of April 12, Michael Shane Collins, 38, was found dead of a single gunshot wound in the yard of a home in Sunset. A Pickens man, Justin Douglas Obryant, 26, faces charges in connection with Collins’ death.

On the afternoon of April 17, Alexandra Anita Santos, 22, was accidentally shot by a 6-year-old boy in a vehicle on Hastings Circle in Easley after the boy found a loaded gun in the floor of the backseat area of the car. Santos was pronounced dead at Baptist Easley Hospital a short time later. The investigation into the incident continues.