• The victims were identified as Shameka Dantzler and Lester Reed
  • Law enforcement officials were present at the house when Reed shot Dantzler
  • The authorities are investigating the motive behind the shooting

A South Carolina man fatally shot his wife before killing himself in front of his stepson and deputies late Sunday night.

The officers had arrived at a home in Mayesville after receiving a domestic violence report. Deputies found a 16-year-old boy at the scene who told them his mother and stepfather were in the living room talking, ABC Colombia reported. The mother's face was reportedly covered in blood.

When law enforcement entered the home, they found a man sitting on a couch next to a woman. The woman called out to the officers and that's when the man suddenly pulled out a handgun, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said, ABC Colombia reported. As deputies took cover and removed the teenager from the scene, a shot was fired followed by another a few seconds later.

Deputies re-entered the room and found the couple dead with gunshot wounds.

“I am saddened by this tragic and needless event,” Sheriff Anthony Dennis said, according to the State. “I pray for the families involved, particularly, for the juvenile who witnessed this horrific event.”

Authorities said in a release to local media that no shots were fired by the law enforcement. The teen was safely removed from the home and was currently in the home of a family member. The victims were identified as 36-year-old Shameka Dantzler and 41-year-old Lester Reed.

“I strongly encourage any victim of domestic abuse, or loved ones who are aware or suspicious of abuse, to please reach out for help,” Dennis said. “The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office victims’ advocates can provide information and resources to assist victims in escaping abusive relationships. Early intervention can be a key to protecting victims of domestic abuse.”

"While we do not yet know all the details concerning this couple’s relationship history, we do know that the very sudden and rapid progression of Mr. Reed’s actions Sunday night resulted in a deadly outcome," he added.

Authorities said the murder-suicide incident remains under investigation and the police are trying to find the motive behind the shooting. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

An obituary for Dantzler was posted on Henryhand Funeral Home's website, which mentioned her "son, Tre’shon Williams of Mayesville, SC; her mother, Lisa Dantzler of Fayetteville, NC; two sisters, Jamie Eaddy of Florence, SC and Tara Dantzler of Columbia, SC; along with a host of other relatives and friends," who are mourning the loss of their loved one.

If you are or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Crime scene Representational image Photo: AFP / Johannes EISELE