Police close to arrest in Blackville weekend murder

News 12 at First at Five / Monday, July 16, 2012

BLACKVILLE, S.C. -- Ronnie Thomas is trying to stay strong.

On Saturday, he got the news no father ever wants to hear. His son of the same name was shot and killed after a fight with another man.

"A guy called me on the phone. He said, 'Man, you need to come to Blackville.' I said, 'For what?' He said, 'Man, you just need to come to Blackville.' I said, 'I [am not] coming to Blackville ... for nothing.' He said, 'Man, your son got shot,'" Thomas said.

"The officers did discover that [Ronnie Thomas, Jr.] did have gunshot wounds to the upper torso and abdomen,” added Blackville Police Chief John Holston.

Thomas was rushed to Georgia Health Sciences University, but he didn't pull through.

On Monday, his family gathered in quiet solitude. They tell News 12 Ronnie was only 20 years old. He'd only recently graduated from Blackville-Hilda High School, where he played football.

"It's heartbreaking to feel, you know. We lost his mom four years ago, four or five years ago, and then we come back to this situation, you know,” said his father.

"My brother had a nice, kind heart to anybody. He'd do for anybody. My brother was just a good person,” added his sister, Essence Thomas-Coleman.

Holston says the murder case has good leads. It's the first murder in Blackville since 2009.

"We have developed some good leads, and based on those leads, we are certain within -- shortly we'll be able to make an arrest in this case,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ronnie's family has pulled together to remember the 20 years they did have together.

"I'm glad we had our times we had with him, and we can always share the memories of my brother,” Essence said.

Holston tells News 12 they are likely only hours away from an arrest. There were witnesses; the murder happened in a pretty populated neighborhood in Blackville.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is handling the investigation right now.

Ronnie's family says they've gotten hundreds of calls and visits. He was well known in the Blackville area.

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