COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina man was distraught over drawn-out divorce proceedings and a recent order to sell a home he co-owned with his ex-wife when he killed the woman's attorney and then himself, authorities said Thursday.
Jerry Dean Crenshaw shot 61-year-old J. Redmond Coyle several times Wednesday afternoon in a parking lot behind Coyle's downtown Pickens office, Police Chief Tommy Ellenburg said.
Crenshaw's wife had hired Coyle after the pair filed for divorce in 2007, according to court filings. That divorce became final in May 2009, but the couple had been haggling over splitting up property they had owned together, said Harold Welborn, Pickens County clerk of court.
The most recent dustup came Jan. 27, when Crenshaw was served with a court order requiring him to sell a house and parcel of land he and his wife had owned and split the proceeds with her, Welborn said. Property records show the couple had lived in a Pickens home valued at more than $120,000.
Authorities said Crenshaw, 61, drove to Coyle's office and wait in the parking lot behind it, hoping to catch Coyle on his way out of the building. Crenshaw shot the attorney as Coyle was leaving, then turned the 9 mm handgun on himself, Ellenburg said.
An off-duty police officer waiting on his wife nearby witnessed the shootings, and Coyle's wife and daughter were there when he was shot, according to a police report.
"The daughter stated that the man appeared out of nowhere and shot her daddy," the report says.
Both men were rushed to area hospitals. Coyle was pronounced dead almost immediately, and Crenshaw died later that evening from a single shot to the head, authorities said.
Police say they have found evidence that Crenshaw planned out the attack, leaving a note in his car saying he planned to kill Coyle. They also found evidence at Crenshaw's home that shows the man intended to kill himself, but Ellenburg wouldn't say Thursday what that evidence was.
The deaths have come as a shock to this town of 3,000 about 120 miles northwest of Columbia. Coyle's offices are across the street from the county courthouse.
Connie Finley, a real estate agent who can see Coyle's office from her window a block away, says the attorney's death has her rattled.
"It's just so scary," said Finley, whose father-in-law was an attorney who did business with Coyle. "All he was doing is his job."