The Post and Courier Wednesday, November 21, 2007 Report depicts officers' killer as deeply troubled man

As police raced toward his Moncks Corner home, Gary Douglas sat on the edge of his bed, placed a gun to his chin and told his former girlfriend that he was going out in a blaze of glory.

During the next hour, Douglas would do his best to carry out that pledge, state investigators learned.

Full of beer and rage, Douglas burst from his double-wide mobile home and opened fire. When it was all over, one police officer lay dead; another was mortally wounded. Douglas would die as well, cut down by a spray of police bullets.

The events of March 25 brought grief and disbelief to a tight-knit, rural town unaccustomed to such violence. Many people were left with a simple question: Why?

Video footage from a police vehicle of Berkeley County sheriff's deputies chasing a police cruiser stolen by Gary Douglas after Douglas fatally shot two Moncks Corner deputies last March. Video footage from a police vehicle of Berkeley County sheriff's deputies chasing a police cruiser stolen by Gary Douglas after Douglas fatally shot two Moncks Corner deputies last March. Watch »

A recently completed investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division provides new details and insight into this domestic incident turned deadly, claiming the lives of Pfc. Lonnie Wells, 40, and Cpl. Marcus Stiles, 26. SLED agents interviewed more than two dozen witnesses and law enforcement officers, studied video from cruisers' cameras and analyzed a host of evidence, from crime scene photos to shell casings.

The resulting report paints a picture of a deeply troubled man, angered over unrequited love, and at his breaking point. The two officers barely had time to react before Douglas turned his guns upon them, witnesses said. "I think he was just spring-loaded to react," Moncks Corner Police Chief Chad Caldwell said.

"But the officers did not have the benefit of knowing his mindset. It's one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever endured."

The SLED report and 911 radio transmissions, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, provide the following account:

Problems started that day as Douglas was helping his former girlfriend, Cathy Cumbee, with some work around CW Laundromat on U.S. Highway 17A. He drank beer and popped a diet pill that was supposed to be mood enhancer. His mood, however, remained grim.

Cumbee had just split with Douglas, a 51-year-old electrician. They argued, and he accused her of giving him false hope of getting back together. Finally, hope of getting back together. Finally, Douglas grabbed Cumbee and wrestled her outside to his pickup truck. He punched her hard in the face and shoved her through the driver's side door. As her worried relatives looked on, Douglas backed the truck into a pole and raced off around 3:30 p.m.

One relative quickly dialed 911 and reported the abduction. "Hurry," she told the dispatcher. "He's pushing her in the car and she doesn't want to go."

SLED Report Stiles heard the report while driving back from getting a warrant signed at a judge's house. The dispatcher gave him a possible address for Douglas on Connie Lane. Stiles radioed Wells to meet him there.

Both officers had civilians riding with them. Stiles' passenger was his girlfriend, Brandy Tuttle. Wells had along a neighbor, Michael Armstrong, who wanted a taste of law enforcement work.

Over on Connie Lane, Cumbee crouched in a corner inside Douglas' home and watched him load cartridges into a gun. "He put it at his chin and threatened to blow his head off. He then threw the gun on the bed, still screaming and hollering in an outrage," she said in a statement.

Trying to calm Douglas, Cumbee telephoned a relative at the laundry and told her to call off the police. But Wells and Stiles arrived about that same time.

"You better get rid of them," Douglas warned her.

Cumbee went outside, thinking she would get into a cruiser and leave with the police. But Douglas suddenly appeared at the door. "Get off my property," he told the officers.

They exchanged some words. Then Douglas grabbed a shotgun and opened fire.

Tuttle, still inside Stiles' cruiser, dove for the floor as a round slammed into the windshield. More gunshots sounded as the officers returned fire.

Cumbee hugged the ground amid the gunfire. When she looked up, she saw an officer lying nearby, his arm bleeding. Stiles was the first one wounded.

Douglas went to her and asked if she was all right. As he walked past her, Cumbee scampered to her feet and ran into the woods. Behind her, she heard "gunshots, screaming and hollering."

Neighbors also could hear Douglas yelling, "You started this and now I'm going to finish it!"

Armstrong, Wells' ride-along passenger, peered from the cruiser and saw Wells bleeding from the head. Armstrong tried to open the passenger door. Douglas saw him and shot at the cruiser. The round hit a window.

Wells tried to take cover behind Stiles' car and then fired another shot at Douglas. "You hit me," Douglas said. Tuttle ventured a look outside and saw Douglas pointing his shotgun at Wells.

More gunfire sounded and the back window of Stiles' cruiser exploded. Tuttle ducked back down.

In the car was Gary Douglas, who gunned down Moncks Corner police officers Lonnie Wells, 40, and Marcus Stiles, 26.

In the car was Gary Douglas, who gunned down Moncks Corner police officers Lonnie Wells, 40, and Marcus Stiles, 26.

Neighbor Terry Dangerfield saw Wells fall back as one blast from Douglas tore into his shoulder. Douglas ran around the car, muttered something to Wells, then shot him close range in the head.

Douglas turned his gun on Stiles, who lay near a fence. As Douglas stopped to reload, Armstrong bolted from the cruiser and dashed from the property to call 911.

Douglas, bleeding from his left arm, jumped in Wells' cruiser and drove off. Minutes later, Berkeley County sheriff's deputies got behind the stolen cruiser and gave chase, with speeds reaching 85 mph.

Deputy Clifford McElvogue was returning home from a weekend National Guard drill when he spotted Douglas and joined the chase. He neared the stolen cruiser and saw Douglas heft a shotgun and lay it across his lap. McElvogue saw Douglas' face in the side view mirror of the stolen cruiser. Douglas was smiling.

As Douglas sped toward the center of Moncks Corner, Chief Deputy Butch Henerey gave the call: Take the vehicle out.

Deputies rammed the stolen cruiser several times before it finally came to a halt near Perry Hill Road and Heatley Street.

McElvogue jumped from his car with pistol drawn and spied Douglas trying to raise the barrel of his shotgun. Fearing for his life, McElvogue fired several shots into the car. Douglas slumped to his right, and the car started moving again down Highway 17A. It finally bounced over a curb and crashed through a fence at Berkeley Alternative School.

Deputies found Douglas slumped over in the passenger seat, bleeding from a head wound. A camouflage-pattern shotgun lay in his lap, the strap still wrapped around his arm.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or

Deputy cites 'pure instinct' in confrontation with killer By Noah Haglund (Contact) The Post and Courier Wednesday, November 21, 2007 MONCKS CORNER — A Berkeley County Sheriff's corporal was driving home from National Guard duty on a Sunday afternoon in March when he received a call: A man had just shot two Moncks Corner police officers. One officer was dead; the other would be by the next day. The man had a shotgun and was driving a stolen patrol car. Clifford C. McElvogue, a low-key 30-year-old with a reputation for being quiet and respectful, would soon find himself faced with a simple decision, but one that would prove emotionally difficult: shoot or be shot. Cpl. Clifford C. McElvogue fatally shot Gary Douglas shortly after Douglas had killed two Moncks Corner police officers. Alan Hawes The Post and Courier Cpl. Clifford C. McElvogue fatally shot Gary Douglas shortly after Douglas had killed two Moncks Corner police officers. "It was pure instinct," McElvogue said during an interview at the Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. "If you think too long, it's going to be too late." Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she reviewed the State Law Enforcement Division's report and found McElvogue acted lawfully and appropriately. "I am grateful he handled the situation the way he did because, in the end, he probably ended up saving more lives," Wilson said. As Gary Douglas raced around town in the stolen car, deputies felt he was a human time bomb. "We knew that he already killed one officer and wouldn't be afraid to do it again," McElvogue said. He learned about the officer shootings from his brother, also a Berkeley County Sheriff's deputy. Soon after turning on his police radio, McElvogue spotted and began trailing the stolen patrol car on U.S. Highway 52 at Cypress Gardens Road, off-duty and wearing Army fatigues. Deputies said they felt they had to act as Douglas led them over to South Live Oak Drive, headed toward the center of town. "They would think he was a police officer until he poked the gun out the window," Chief Deputy Butch Henerey said. During the chase, McElvogue bumped Douglas off the road near Berkeley Alternative School. He drew his personal Glock 27 pistol and saw Douglas starting to lift the shotgun. The deputy fired several times. He doesn't remember how many. He spent the next 30 days on paid leave, doing a lot of fishing and cutting grass, even when it wasn't necessary. He replayed the shooting over in his head, calling it a "24-hour movie." After 45 days, he was back on the job. Married for 11 years with a 7-year-old son, McElvogue grew up around Moncks Corner and attended Macedonia High School. After serving six years with the Army in Fort Sill, Okla., and Fort Bragg, N.C., he returned to the Lowcountry and joined the Sheriff's Office in late 2003. Since the shooting he has turned to family and co-workers for support. In some ways, they are intertwined; his brother, Gerald McElvogue is a Berkeley County detective and his father, Clifford L. McElvogue, is a lieutenant. McElvogue knew both of the slain Moncks Corner officers and had become fairly good friends with one of them, Pfc. Lonnie Wells, through contact on the job. He never imagined something like what happened March 25 in Moncks Corner. "It makes you a little bit more aware of what could happen," he said. "Once you put on the uniform and leave the house, you're not guaranteed you're going to come back." Reach Noah Haglund at 937-5550 or