Possible hate crime: Black man shot and dragged by White friend

The South Carolina shooting death of an African American man whose body was then dragged behind a pickup truck for miles is being investigated as a possible hate crime, after a white man was arrested.

Newberry County deputies have arrested and charged 19-year-old Gregory Collins with the murder of Anthony Hill of Winnsboro, S.C., about 30 miles north of Columbia .

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Lee Foster and State Law Enforcement Division Director Reggie Lloyd identified the victim as 30-year-old Hill and announced that they would be working in conjunction with the FBI who has jurisdiction over hates crimes, reports CBS affiliate WLTX.

“We don’t yet have a definitive motive,” Lloyd told WLTX. “But out of precaution, given the circumstances, we are investigating the racial angle.”

Lloyd also said they weren’t ready to “attribute something to Collins that isn’t necessarily true.”

Police say Hill’s body was found on U.S. Highway 176 by a passing motorist around 4:30 a.m Wednesday. Deputies then followed a trail of blood they say stretched for several miles and over several roads from the crime scene to Collins’ trailer.

Collins refused to come out of his trailer after deputies arrived and a three-hour standoff ensued. Collins finally surrendered after a SWAT team decided to force him out using tear gas.

Collins was immediately taken into custody. He was unarmed, but was wearing an empty gun holster, according to WLTX.

Although the coroner has concluded that Hill died from a gunshot wound to the head, deputies and the FBI are trying to determine why Collins dragged the victim’s body nearly 10 miles.

Sheriff Foster, who has been in law enforcement for 35 years, told WLTX that the incident is “one of the top three most violent crime scenes he’s ever seen.”

Investigators said that Hill and Collins were acquaintances and worked at the same chicken processing plant in Newberry County. They had spent most of Tuesday together and were at Collins’ house when Hill was shot, according to investigators.

Foster said that Collins then attached a nylon rope to Hill’s neck and dragged the victim until the rope snapped after several miles.

There was some other evidence that linked the two men but Sheriff Foster declined to comment further.

Collins remains in jail without bond and does not yet have a lawyer.

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