Shooting in Shandon



I’ve had a very strange day.  I have a lot I’m supposed to be working on, but I’ve found myself in the middle of this tragedy playing out in Columbia, SC today.  You hear about shootings and tragedies on the news, maybe you, like me, find them disturbing and fascinating and horrifying.  Sometimes even those distant horrors can seem personal, like Columbine, and people who weren’t even close to being involved have to get through the grief of the event.

I certainly didn’t think I’d ever know someone at the center of something like that.  Why would I?  It seemed like something that happened in other worlds.  Certainly not in Columbia, SC, and definitely not in the whitebread, middle class neighborhood of Shandon.

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t quite go back to sleep, so I checked my Facebook.  One of my FB friends wrote that they’d heard shots outside their house, and they live in Shandon.  My mom lives in Shandon, but all I really thought was, “Now I can get back at her for all the paranoia when I lived in Echo Park.”  And I went back to sleep.

After I got to work, I read a little about it, and the information was sparse: a police officer had been shot in the protective vest, a suspect with an AK-47 had been killed, suicide by cop, and it all happened within sight of my mother’s house.  That was a little bit too freaky, so I texted her to make sure she was OK.  She didn’t reply for a long while, and when she did I was really flummoxed.

“It was Blake Jernigan.”



And here was my thought process: Blake Jernigan.  Was the shooter?  That can’t be right.  Does she mean he was the officer who is OK, no, he’s too young, that doesn’t make sense, she must mean he was the shooter.  He did get in trouble a couple years ago for drugs or something, but he’s like 22, he’s a kid!  He went to high school with my little brother!  He used to hang out at our house, he’s friends with my little sister, clearly she’s got something mixed up or is talking about something else…

So I texted my little brother, hoping that he’d say something like “Oh, no, she just meant it was at his house, it wasn’t him, he’s fine.”  He didn’t say that.

Then the news caught up with gossip and reported that the shooter was Blakely Jernigan.  They even found a picture of him from Facebook.  He looks exactly like he did when he was 12.

If you ever know someone involved in some sort of story, don’t read the comments.  Really, do not, it will only make you angry and sad and doubtful of the worthiness of humanity.  I don’t begrudge the cops for shooting him, they did what they had to do and shooting at cops is basically a death wish, but I don’t understand the people crowing about the death of a 22 year old troubled kid.  Calling him names, discussing which more terrifying weapons the police should have used to destroy him, and of course the one guy who says he’d wished it was Obama that got shot instead.

Then my brother FB IMed me, he seemed really freaked out.  No one was surprised that he came to a bad end, but no one thought he’d be at the center of a police shoot out either.  Apparently his personality had drastically changed since going to college, he started doing and selling drugs, and he got a fully automatic AK-47 because people were robbing him.  Not really a story that’s going to have a happy ending.

I dunno, maybe this is one of those bleeding heart liberal things, where I just can’t make anyone into a cardboard cutout bad guy.  I can’t help but see people in these stories, even when I don’t know them.  I just don’t know why anyone is happy at the death of another.  I have no distance from this, so I guess I can’t really say.

I am very glad that the officer is going to be just fine, I only wish the same could be said for the Jernigans.



My sister on the news


About ashleyfmiller

I write, give occasional speeches, and am currently getting my PhD in Mass Communications from South Carolina. Before going back to school, I worked in Los Angeles in reality tv, web series, and film.

Posted on April 27, 2011, in Posts Worth Going Back and Reading, Real Life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Columbia shootings happen /very frequently/, you just don’t read about them.

  2. And I really must disagree with your use of the phrase “suicide by cop”. That’s *very* presumptuous.

    • How else do you describe deliberately walking into the shooting range of a dozen cops with guns pointed at you while waving/shooting an AK47?

  3. agree 100% with you. this kid was troubled obviously and made a huge mistake. however these folks making those comments are sad disgusting human beings who obviously are perfect as are their families!

  4. Ashley, I am a retired police officer and former parole officer. Your assessment is correct. It is always much more complicated than people want to acknowledge. We like to paint things with a broad brush and make polar depictions of humanity. They are good or evil. The reality is that good people sometimes do really stupid things and they get killed in the process.

    I recently found out that one of my former peers committed suicide. It was hard to wrap my head around. I new a completely different person and for me that was the person who died.

  5. Thank you for writing this. My husband was a good friend of Blake’s and it has really been disheartening to read all of the comments of those who presume to have perfect lives that could never be effected like this. Blake was a good guy. He was a good friend to my husband and we will miss him very much. It just goes to show that you are never as far away from these situations as you would like to be. I know that Blake was a troubled man, but there was a lot of good inside of him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  6. “whitebread”?

  7. Why is it so surprising this happened in Shandon? Because its middle class, predominantly white neighborhood with “good kids”? Look at this guys rap sheet, do some research, he had been a prominent drug dealer to the “good kids” in and around Shandon. What makes him different from a black crack dealer from Benedict College or the ghetto behind 5 points? Nothing. I’m not judging this guy, merely pointing out the hypocracy when people say “I’m so surprised it happened to him”. Why? The only difference is the color of his skin and having rich parents, who dearly loved him more than they loved life itself. I’m so sorry for his parents, they are the true victims.
    I met this kid at a party in Columbia once in early 2011, he was a coke junkie. No ones perfect and we all have problems, but not all of us use a gun to try and solve them.

  8. I’ll spell it out Ashley. Please, with all your knowledge of psychology tell me; what makes this kid different from the shooters across the way, in the black neighborhoods? (Besides the color of his skin, and the thousands of dollars wasted on “re-rehabilitating” this punk). Look, this kid had a list pages deep of felonies; he was not even attempting to change. That’s obvious.
    Why don’t you do some real research, (like talk to friends, family, and buyers of his drugs)
    The people buying his drugs knew him best.
    Like any sociopath, he acted one way around parents and adults….and then took off the “mask” of innocence when he returned to his life of drugs, dealing, making money the EASY way, and a wannabe murderer.
    He left his girlfriend naked in a bath tub, passed out from over using alcohol and drugs, turned on all the gas in the house, so that if any police officers fired a shot or so much as lit a match in the house, it would had exploded….killing his helpless girlfriend in the process.
    That is evil. Pure evil; to plan that out and turn on the gas.

    All these rich white kids with rich parents, who know prominent lawyers who get them off the hook make me SICK.
    Maybe if he had done time for his first two felonies, instead of getting a lawyer to make it so he did not serve ONE day in jail, he would have learned a lesson.

    But no, he learned no lesson- and neither have you, Ashley. If you continue to make excuses for this kids behavior.

    He was a prominent drug dealer to the “good (white) kids” at University of South Carolina and in and around Shandon area. Kids who haven’t worked a hard days work in their entire life, save for maybe baseball or football practice in high school; these kids WASTE their parents money on drugs; and this kid supplied them. I know the kids (who are not kids anymore, no matter how hard they wish they were) who bought from him. I was at parties with this kid, and didn’t even know it until a friend told me who “the one slinking about the wall” way.

    Understand this: I’m sorry he chose to die by suicide by cop. I’m sorry he decided to take his life in the direction he took it. None of us are perfect, we all fail at being decent human beings daily. My ex girlfriend knew his mother well, and I pray for her and the family.

    Thankfully, the mother of Jernigan does NOT read the comments on the internet. If she did, I would not be writing so candidly.

    I’m tired of the hypocrisy; I’m tired of rich white college kids getting away with felonies and not serving ONE single day in jail due to the obscenely high amount of money their father’s make. It is not right, and obviously it is not working. Blake learned nothing, and now he is dead because of it. Maybe if he had served some jail time, he would have thought twice about coming back from Clemson to Columbia to sell drugs; but he didn’t serve any time, and he did not learn any lesson, because his behavior continued to spiral out of control- to the point of attempted murder on an officer of the law and attempted murder of his poor “girlfriend”.

    What makes him different from a black crack dealer from Benedict College? Nothing…except the color of his skin, the skewed sympathy he is getting in death (this guy was a murderer, drug runner/dealer, and attempted to take his GF and anyone else who entered the house to the grave with him. He attempted murder even in/after his death!

    He deserves little to no sympathy; you argue maybe he had some mental things going on- Okay, if he truly did have mental issues he should have NOT been living alone or with drug buddies; he should have been at home with his family, on the right medication and counseling.

    Instead, he was left on his own to do what he wanted. Which was a) sell/use drugs…aka make easy money, b) when scared, multiple attempted murders, and finally C) suicide by cop.

    He obviously did not want to live after he shot that police officer, he knew he was screwed- so he ran outside firing his AK47 at police officers, any idiot knows they WILL shoot back, and the SWAT team did, one shot, one kill- he couldn’t take his own life, so he forced the police to take it for him.

    Do you’re research, and if you want to be a writer Ashley, you need to take ALL biased views out of your articles- because your blog is extremely biased and overly sympathetic to this attempted multi-murderer.

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