DILLON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – A South Carolina elementary school principal who was shot to death early Sunday morning was found dead inside a car by authorities with the suspect still inside, according to the Dillon County sheriff.
Dr. Wendy Cook, 54, was the principal at Stewart Height Elementary School in the Dillon County Four School District. Her death was ruled a homicide on Monday by Coroner Donnie Grimsley.
Authorities arrested Kyle Church, 31, after being called around 3:15 a.m. to an address just outside Dillon to investigate gunshots, according to Sheriff Douglas Pernell.
Pernell said deputies found Church inside a car with Cook, who was dead. Deputies also recovered a gun inside the car.
Church was charged with murder as well as possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He appeared before a magistrate on Monday and will now have to appear before a circuit court judge for a bond hearing, Pernell said.
Pernell said Tuesday that Cook and Church were acquaintances but could not provide additional details. He also said he did not know whether Church was one of Cook’s former students.
The sheriff said the next steps in how the case proceeds will be up to the solicitor’s office.
The district confirmed news of Cook’s death on its Facebook page Monday.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a statement Monday night that she was saddened by Cook’s death.
“Her colleagues and friends in the Dillon County School District 4 talk about the great work she did leading her school and the many impacts she had on her students and staff,” Spearman said. “My deepest condolences are with the entire Dillon school community as they grieve this loss.”