David Damont Ward, 25, of Bennettsville, was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Ward is suspected to be involved in the death of Eric “Mickey” Thompson. Thompson went missing on Dec. 6, 2008 after his car was found on Highway 9 in Bennettsville and was later found shot dead in his home at 2124 Old Wire Road in Wallace, S.C.
Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Jamie Seales said that investigators linked the shooting to gang-related activity and quickly pinpointed Ward as a suspect.
Ward has a past criminal history for violent offenses and was on probation at the time of Thompson’s murder.
Ward was identified as a member of the Down West Boys, a gang with violent ties to the area.
“The investigation showed that members of the gang may have been involved or have information about the murder that they were withholding due to gang culture,” Seales said.
The Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office later made seven arrests in the case during Operation Peace Maker in 2009. Members of the group, including Ward, were indicted on previous weapon and drug charges.
“During the course of the federal investigation, information and evidence arose that strengthened the murder investigation,” Seales said. “We then met with federal prosecutors and Fourth Circuit Solicitor Will Rogers and the evidence led to the recent charges against Ward.”
Officials do not have a motive for the murder as of this time.
Ward is currently being held in federal custody at the Dillon County Detention Center and faces more than 20 years in prison on federal charges.
Two members of the Down West Boys were previously sentenced in July.
Down West member Demario Alexander Hasty was sentenced to three years and five months in prison and three years of supervised release for his arrest in Operation “Peace Maker.” Hasty plead guilty in July of 2009 to conspiracy to possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 kilograms or more of crack cocaine and marijuana. Officials say that Hasty has been instrumental during the investigation and has provided information about criminal activity in the Marlboro area.
James Luther McLean was sentenced to 16 years in prison in the indictment.
Marlon Eugene Hasty, Demario Jaquan Baker, Patrick Bostic Broughton, Lokheim Jeralle Campbell, McLean, Hasty and Ward were all indicted in the Operation “Peace Maker” arrests.
“I would like to once again give my condolences to the family of Eric for such a senseless murder,” Marlboro County Sheriff Fred Knight said. “I would also like to thank the family and the citizens of Marlboro County for their patience with this investigation. We had a plan and working along with the federal and state prosecutors, we accomplished our mission.”
With Ward’s sentencing, all the members of the Down West Boys that were indicted have been sentenced.