Ceremony to mark tragedy in Abbeville
Saturday, December 07, 2013 12:36 AM
It's been an eyelash shy of a full decade since Abbeville County endured one of the darkest days in the county seat's rich history.
Sunday marks the 10-year anniversary of the highly publicized Bixby shooting in Abbeville. And officials are expected to take time out Monday morning for a short ceremony in memory of the victims of the tragedy, which left two county law enforcement officers dead.
Abbeville County Sheriff's Office deputies will gather at the ACSO Law Enforcement Center, 21 Old Calhoun Falls Road, shortly after 9 a.m. The ceremony will include a moment of silence and a wreath laying at a shrine in front of the LEC dedicated to the two slain officers — Deputy Danny "Danny Boy" Wilson and Magistrate's Constable Donnie Ouzts.
"We are going to salute them and show respect to the officers involved," Capt. Natalie Talbert said.
Wilson responded to the Bixby home along Union Church Road the morning of Dec. 8, 2003, planning to talk to the residents about an ongoing land dispute between the state Department of Transportation and members of the Bixby family. He was shot as he stood on the front porch and dragged into the residence where he bled to death. Ouzts was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene after Wilson was shot, and he was gunned down as he stepped out of his patrol car and walked through the front yard. He died later while en route to the hospital. A 14-hour standoff and gun battle ensued between members of the Bixby family and several law enforcement officers.
Officers eventually arrested Steven, Arthur and Rita Bixby in connection with the incident. Rita Bixby was convicted of masterminding the ambush in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison. Arthur Bixby, who was charged but deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, was remanded to a mental institution. Both died in September 2011.
Steven Bixby still sits on death row after being convicted in 2007 of murdering the two officers. His last post-conviction relief hearing concluded in March in Lexington County. Officials from the South Carolina Attorney General's Office said this week Circuit Court Judge Knox McMahon, who presided over those proceedings, has yet to render a ruling in the case.
Years later, remnants of the shooting continued to be a source of grief for officials. Former Abbeville County Sheriff Charles Goodwin kept a picture of the two fallen deputies on his desk up until his departure from the sheriff's office earlier this year. During an August 2012 interview with the Index-Journal, he said the fatal incident was the hardest thing he's had to deal with in his nearly 40-year law enforcement career.
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