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54-year-old SC elementary school principal was shot to death in a car Sunday morning, the suspect taken into custody

A South Carolina elementary school principal was discovered shot to death in a vehicle, and the suspect, who was also in the vehicle, is in custody, according to authorities.

Wendy Cook, 54 years old, was shot early on Sunday, according to Dillon County Sheriff Douglas Pernell. According to WBTW-TV, coroner Donnie Grimsley ruled her death a murder on Monday.

Pernell said authorities detained Kyle Church, 31, after being dispatched to an address just outside Dillon at 3:15 a.m. Sunday to investigate reports of gunfire. According to Pernell, when deputies arrived, they discovered Cook and Church inside a vehicle, with Cook dead. He added that deputies also recovered a firearm.

Church is being detained at the Dillon County Detention Center on murder and weapon possession allegations. It was uncertain whether he has a counsel who could represent him.

Cook was the principal of Dillon County School District’s Stewart Height Elementary School. She had served the district for nearly 25 years, according to District 4 Superintendent Ray Rogers.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman released a statement on Monday expressing her sadness over Cook’s passing.

“Her colleagues and friends in the Dillon County School District 4 talk about the great work she did leading her school and the many impacts she had on her students and staff,” Spearman said. “My deepest condolences are with the entire Dillon school community as they grieve this loss.”

An internet obituary states that Cook is survived by a daughter, son, and grandson. Wednesday will be her funeral.

Pernell stated on Tuesday that Cook and Church were acquaintances, but no motive for the murder has been made public. Additionally, he stated that he did not know if Church was one of Cook’s previous students.

According to online court records, Church is due to appear in court on October 5.

According to court documents, Church is a defendant in an ongoing wrongful death action. In June 2020, Teddy Yarborough was killed when a car collided with an ATV, according to investigators. The lawsuit contends that Church was driving the ATV while Yarborough was a passenger, and that the ATV was struck after Church failed to yield to the car, according to the station.

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