GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) — Bryan Sweatt was in the middle of a custody fight with his girlfriend over their 7-month-old daughter and facing a burglary charge that could put him in jail for years.
His girlfriend's father had warned him to stay away from his house and the dirt track Sweatt had built in the backyard for his all-terrain vehicles.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, the 27-year-old Sweatt broke into the parents' house and waited for them and the girlfriend to come home, police said. When they did, Sweatt fatally shot his girlfriend, her parents and two children living there, before turning the gun on himself, Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis said.
"Once you see a horrific scene like this it never leaves you. It's with you day in and day out," he said.
The victims were identified as Richard Fields, 51; his wife, Melissa Fields, 49; their daughter Chandra Fields, 26; and two of the couple's grandchildren who lived with them: William Robinson, 9; and Tariq Robinson, 11.
Davis didn't specify a motive for the shootings, but said it appears they stemmed from a "domestic violence situation."
He said Sweatt felt that Chandra Fields wasn't allowing him to see their infant child often enough. The girl was not among the dead.
He said that Sweatt had called 911 while he was in the Fields' house, stating that he was on the edge and contemplating suicide, before hanging up.
It's unclear how many — if any — victims had been shot before he made the call at 5:54 p.m. Tuesday. A police report said a dispatcher heard a woman in the background say: "Do not point that at me" before the call was disconnected.
Sweatt allowed four children to escape — his 7-month-old daughter, the infant's cousin and two neighborhood children who came to the door after school to play with the Fields' grandchildren.
No one knows why Sweatt let them live and shot the others, Davis said.
"I cannot tell you at this point that I have all the answers for you," he said.
While they're still searching for clues, one thing is clear: Sweatt's life was spinning out of control.
Sweatt has a lengthy arrest record that dates back nearly a decade, according to state police records. Most of his charges were related to property crimes, such as burglary or forgery, although he was arrested once on aggravated assault charges.
He was supposed to be in court Tuesday on a burglary charge, Davis said. The sheriff didn't have many details about the hearing, but said Sweatt faced up to 30 years if convicted.