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Camden man kills cab driver, then shoots self

Posted: September 18, 2011 2:19 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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A crime spree that began in Camden Friday afternoon and spread across two other counties ended back in Camden when authorities brought 20-year-old Nicholas Kyle Rivers to a stop near S.C. 34 and U.S. 1.

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A 20-year-old Camden man with a history of mental health and substance abuse issues shot and killed himself Friday after a violent afternoon rampage through Kershaw, Richland and Lee counties.

Nicholas Kyle Rivers’ crime spree began around 3 p.m. Friday when he called for a cab from the Parkview Motel in Camden, said Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews. Rivers paid the cab driver, 30-year-old Debra Wright, the fare to Columbia. During the ride, he demanded she instead drive him to California. When Wright, who was accompanied by her 7-year-old son, refused, he pointed a pistol at her head. She agreed to continue driving to Columbia, to Two Notch Road near a Waffle House, where Rivers got into a Checker Yellow Cab.

Rivers shot and killed the Checker Yellow Cab driver and stole the cab, Matthews said. He drove the cab down I-20 into Kershaw County with Richland County deputies in pursuit, getting off the interstate at exit 108 and entering Lee County. When Rivers doubled back into Kershaw County, he was pursued by deputies from all three counties.

The 30-minute, high-speed chase ended near the intersection of S.C. 34 and U.S. 1 in Camden, Matthews said, where Camden Police Department officers deployed “stop sticks” – devices that deflate a vehicle’s tires when crossed -- in the road, while Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Capt. Ed Corey used a tactical move with his car to “pivot” the back of the cab and force it to spin out and strike a guard rail.

As officers approached the vehicle, Rivers shot himself in the head, Matthews said. Emergency Medical Services transported him to KershawHealth. He was then airlifted to Palmetto Health Richland, where he died a short time later, the sheriff reported.

“It’s a good thing we were able to stop him before he got to U.S. 1,” Matthews said. “It could have made a bad situation worse.”

Rivers had a history of mental health and substance abuse issues, Matthews said, and had recently been treated for a K2 spice addiction. He was in possession of marijuana at the time of his death.

 “As tragic as this whole incident was,” Matthews said, “it could have been a whole lot worse.  High speed pursuits of an armed murder suspect are extremely dangerous.  All of the officers involved showed a great degree of courage and professionalism.”

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the murder of the Checker Yellow Cab driver.  The KCSO is investigating the kidnapping and armed robbery of the Camden cab driver.  The collision which ended the pursuit is under investigation by the S.C. Highway Patrol.

(C-I Associate Editor Martin L. Cahn contributed to this report.)

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