Investigation continues after Lexington man wanted on drug charges shot by deputy


The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department says a man wanted on drug charges was shot and killed as deputies attempted to arrest him Tuesday morning.

The shooting occurred at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at a home on Seleta Circle. The Lexington County Coroner’s office has identified the man as John Bittle, 39, of Lexington.

The county’s fugitive team, including deputies with the sheriff’s department, the U.S. Marshals Service, and Columbia Police were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Bittle. Bittle was on probation and had absconded and law enforcement agencies were trying to locate him.

Bittle was wanted by the sheriff’s department on two counts of distributing methamphetamine. Sheriff Jay Koon said the officers encountered Bittle outside the house, who then ran off.

“The suspect was making threatening statements to our officers,” Koon said. “The encounter ended with our deputy shooting the suspect.”

Sheriff Jay Koon claims Bittle stated he ”wasn’t going back to jail”

— Mike DeSumma (@MikeDeSumma) May 9, 2017

Koon also said Bittle stated he would take law enforcement down with him if he encountered them

— Mike DeSumma (@MikeDeSumma) May 9, 2017

Koon said EMS was called to the scene and administered aid to Bittle but he died.

Koon said on March 30 deputies were involved in a vehicle chase with Bittle that started near Edmund and deputies called off the pursuit when it entered Aiken County.

“Last week we heard statements that the suspect made stating that he was not going to go back to jail and if he encountered law enforcement, he was going to take some down with him,” Koon said.

An autopsy for Bittle is scheduled for Wednesday.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting and will turn over the results of the investigation to the solicitor’s office. SLED said there is no body cam or dash cam video of the incident.

According to SLED, this is the 20th officer-involved shooting in South Carolina in 2017 and the second this year involving a Lexington County Sheriff’s deputy.

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