A South Carolina woman who fired a weapon into the house and apartment of two of her neighbors and shot a Black man in his front yard in 2017 has been convicted of all charges and sentenced to decades in prison.
On May 21, a jury found 48-year-old Mandy Morrow Fortson guilty of attempted murder, discharging a firearm into a dwelling, and breach of peace — aggravated in nature, according to the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
On Feb. 22, 2017, in the Rosewood suburb of Columbia, South Carolina, Fortson fired a .41 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver into a Hispanic family’s home multiple times as they were having a meal. There was a child in the home at the time. She then fired into a Black family’s apartment as they were getting ready for bed. When a Black man came outside to get her to stop, Fortson shot him in the hip and wrist. There was a 10-year-old child and an adult in the home at the time, where another bullet entered although no one else was injured. According to witnesses, Fortson yelled derogatory slurs while shooting at her neighbors.
“All the shooting was from her backyard,” said Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson. “She fired six shots and then reloaded.”
Authorities said Fortson resisted arrest as officers took her into custody. A sign on the door read “Forget about the dog. Beware of owner.”
Fortson testified in her own defense during the trial and claimed she had not fired any shots that night. The Richland County jury took two hours to find Fortson guilty.
She was sentenced to 15 years for the attempted murder charge and five years for the others by Judge Robert Hood. The sentences will run consecutively for 20 years.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the case illustrates the need for a hate crime law. “A hate crime law would have allowed the judge to enhance her sentence,” Lott told The State newspaper.
Earlier in the year the South Carolina House passed a hate crimes law that would have enhanced penalties in cases with proven racial overtones but the Senate adjourned without voting on it. Gipson said Fortson would have been charged with a hate crime if the state had a law for it. Authorities never ascertained a motive for the shooting.