RICHLAND COUNTY, SC Jan 12 2018
Leonard Bradley went to a Lower Richland home to see a woman he was romantically involved with.
He found her talking to another man outside. He shot the man. The woman ran from him.
Then Bradley turned the gun on himself.
A case of domestic violence and suicide shocked and saddened the Richland County law enforcement community Tuesday, because Bradley, 62, was a deputy county coroner with a four-decade career in Columbia-area law enforcement.
“A lot of tears have been shed since yesterday,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday in announcing the details of the events leading to Bradley’s death. “There’s anger and frustration and all kinds of feelings. ...
“I get asked a lot of times what can we do to prevent these domestic murder-suicides or attempted murder-suicide. It’s hard. I don’t know the answer.”
Before Bradley arrived at the house on Clarkson Road in Hopkins, another county employee, Levi Brown, had stopped at the house to speak to a woman he knew there, Lott said.
Brown, a litter control officer, was on duty and had just come from another call in the area.
The two were talking outside the house when Bradley, who was not on duty, pulled up in his personal car around 12:30 p.m.
Words were exchanged, and Bradley began shooting at Brown, Lott said.
The woman ran inside, with Bradley following behind. When she locked the door and he could not get inside the house, Bradley went to the garage and shot himself in the head, Lott said.
Bradley had been placed on temporary medical leave from the coroner’s office not long before Tuesday’s shooting, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. Bradley was working through some personal issues, probably related to what ended up unfolding Tuesday, Watts said.
Bradley had worked for the coroner’s office since 2006 and been a deputy coroner since 2012.
“It was never an issue of us thinking he was going to do something like this,” Watts said. “We all have friends and we all have people who go through tough times. Don’t take it lightly. Tell somebody about it because there’s help available, but you’ve got to know about it in order to get that help.”
Brown, the litter control officer, was wearing a county-issued bulletproof vest and carrying a county-issued gun at the time he was shot, Lott said. The vest probably saved his life, the sheriff said.
Brown pulled his gun but never fired it, Lott said. Instead, one of Bradley’s shots struck Brown’s gun and injured Brown’s finger. A bullet also struck Brown’s vest, and he was shot in the arm. His injuries are not life-threatening, but he remained in the hospital Tuesday afternoon, Lott said.
The woman involved in the incident was not injured, Lott said.
“I can’t tell you what Mr. Bradley’s intent was other than he probably would have killed both of them,” Lott said.