Columbia man convicted in Lexington County murder
A Columbia man is headed to prison following his conviction by a Lexington County jury in the shooting death of a 31-year-old man in 2014, the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office announced.
Gregory Lamont Brooks, 23, was found guilty earlier this week on charges of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Following the verdicts, Brooks was sentenced to 35 years by Circuit Court Judge Eugene Griffith.
On February 2, 2014, victim Brandon E. Ratliff of Brook Pines Dr., Columbia, was fatally shot at the Cockpit Bar and Grill, located at 214 Berryhill Road in the Columbia area of Lexington County.
Before the shooting, Lexington County Sheriff’s investigators said Ratliff was trying to mediate a dispute that involved Brooks and several individuals in the parking lot at the bar.
Brooks fired ten shots in the crowded parking lot, hitting Ratliff in the upper torso. Multiple witnesses at the scene identified Brooks as the shooter.
Ratliff was transported in a privately owned vehicle to Lexington Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Following the shooting, Brooks attempted to conceal facts and cover up his involvement in the crimes after the murder. Lawyers and Sheriff’s investigators said he cut his hair and altered his appearance, changed his phone number, got his girlfriend to lie about his location at the time of the crime for which she was later arrested and charged, fled to New Jersey, and lied to officers about his nickname, according to the Solicitor’s office.
In addition, arrest warrants alleged that prior to the shooting Brooks had been convicted of a violent crime and further violated South Carolina law by unlawfully possessing the handgun used to kill Ratliff.
Brooks’ case was investigated by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Unit, and prosecuted by Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solicitors Rhonda Patterson and Gill Bell.