Drug Indictments in Fatal Apartment Fire
Two face federal charges in May 31 Goose Creek blaze that killed three.
A federal grand jury returned a 3-count indictment against two men accused of producing meth in the Pine Harbour apartment building destroyed by a fire on May 31. Three people died in the blaze — the youngest victim was 4-years-old.
Shonni Abernathy and Jerald McCabe have been charged with conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine, creating a substantial risk of harm in doing so and manufacturing the drug where children live.
Both men face a maximum of life in prison with a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence if convicted. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson added that a federal judge could weigh the deaths in determining sentencing, if the pair are convicted on the drug charges.
"The circumstances surrounding this case are tragic, and the Goose Creek community needs to know that this case is a priority for each of the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved," said U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles.
Agencies involved include the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, the Solicitor's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
"This case is an example of what we all too frequently see with methamphetamine: destroyed families and communities with shattered lives," Nettles said.
Dozens of residents were displaced in the fire. Law enforcement noted in the press conference following the indictment that the investigation continues and other charges are possible.
"If we determine a fire that has taken a life or causes significant property damage was deliberately or recklessly set, we will take whatever steps are necessary to hold the responsible person accountable for their actions in a court of law," said Wayne Dixie, ATF special agent in charge.