Widow: Tragedy didn't have to happen
The Post and Courier
Sunday, June 20, 2010
A private detective hired by former North Charleston Mayor Bobby Kinard told Kinard repeatedly to stay away from the apartment where his wife was inside with another man, an attorney for the investigator said Saturday.
Kinard's wife said if the private detective, Tommy Blackwood, had not been involved, a tragic outcome might have ended differently.
Police say Kinard, 64, a Vietnam veteran who was mayor from 1991 to 1994, shot the man who was with his wife, fled and later took his own life in his pickup truck. Susan Kinard, 49, was unharmed, but Terry Portier, 50, was shot twice in the shoulder, police said.
No information on his condition was available Saturday. The Post and Courier has been unable to reach Portier, and Susan Kinard said she has not been in contact with him since the shooting.
Charleston attorney Mark Peper said Blackwood did not believe Kinard was armed late Thursday or that he would commit violence. Blackwood searched Kinard for weapons when Kinard arrived outside the Mount Pleasant apartment, but found no weapon, Peper said.
Peper said Blackwood does not want to speak to the press, but as a witness to "this tragic, tragic set of events" wants his view of the story told.
Peper said his client shouldn't face any charges, insisting that Blackwood "didn't do anything wrong and he immediately reported the incident to authorities."
Susan Kinard said Blackwood convinced her husband that something illicit was going on. She said her relationship with Portier, a friend from Kansas, was strictly platonic.
Susan Kinard said her husband has been very depressed in the past year and was on strong medication as part of treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. He was struggling to deal with his experiences in the Vietnam War, and that was compounded by concern for his son, Robert, an Army reservist serving in Afghanistan, she said.
Susan Kinard insisted that she and her husband were not estranged. They saw each other every day at work and during the evenings, and while they remained deeply in love decided that due to Bobby Kinard's health they should spend time apart, she said.
"He cried every day," she said. "It was a horrible, sad situation."
The Kinards separated about three weeks ago, around the same time Bobby Kinard contracted Blackwood to conduct surveillance on his wife, Peper said.
Blackwood, who retired from North Charleston police in 2007 after 32 years service and opened his private investigative agency, had a nearly 40-year personal and professional relationship with Bobby Kinard, Peper said.
Peper said that at 6:45 p.m. Thursday Kinard called Blackwood to say his wife had phoned him to say she would be bringing their daughter, 16, over to spend the night.
Their daughter usually spends the weekends with her mother, and that raised "red flags" for the former mayor, Peper said. Susan Kinard said their daughter wanted to spend Father's Day weekend with her dad.
Peper said Bobby Kinard was worried and wanted Blackwood to go to Susan Kinard's apartment to see what was going on.
Blackwood was outside of the apartment at 7:30 p.m. He and Bobby Kinard exchanged phone calls and text messages throughout the night.
Peper said Kinard kept suggesting that he should come to the scene, but Blackwood told him that was unnecessary and that his presence would hinder efforts to build a case for a divorce.
At 10:20 p.m., Blackwood sent a text message to Kinard that the apartment lights were turned off. Blackwood wanted to leave the apartment after planting a camera outside to record who left in the morning, Peper said.
Peper said Kinard called Blackwood from his Isle of Palms home at 11:21 p.m. to say he was on his way to the apartment. When he arrived at 11:40 p.m., Blackwood asked him for assurance that he planned nothing violent, and Blackwood then conducted a "cursory pat down," finding no weapons, Peper said.
Peper said it's possible that Kinard had the .357 magnum used in the shootings well-concealed, or got it from his car when he slipped away when he said he was going to make a phone call.
Susan Kinard said it would be impossible for Blackwood not to know Bobby Kinard had a .357 magnum on him.
Kinard told Blackwood that he had a plan to "flush out" whoever was inside the apartment, according to Peper. Kinard said he would call his wife and tell her their daughter was ill and needed to go to the hospital, Peper said.
Kinard said that when his wife didn't answer her phone, he used a key to enter the apartment, Peper said.
Peper said Blackwood was a short distance behind Kinard when Kinard entered the apartment, then Kinard turned to his right to go into a bedroom. Blackwood heard two gunshots, which he initially thought were fired at Kinard, Peper said.
Blackwood did not see the shooting, Peper said, and it's unclear whether the video camera he had was running at the time. The camera was not in position to see the shooting, Peper said.
Susan Kinard said Bobby woke her, pulled her from a bed and dragged her to the bedroom at the other end of the apartment where Portier was sleeping. He protected her, she said, while firing at Portier.
"That was a big gun Bobby had beside my head when he was shooting," she said.
Susan Kinard said Bobby made no threats in the apartment. "He never said a word to me. For all his bluster he is the most gentle soul," she said.
Peper said Blackwood saw Kinard emerge from the apartment "in a daze. His eyes were very wide open like he'd seen a ghost. He was not in a clear state of mind." Blackwood saw Kinard holding a .357 magnum, "loaded and locked and ready to be fired again," and ordered him to drop it, Peper said.
Blackwood failed to convince Kinard to drop the gun, Peper said.
Susan Kinard said that after the shooting she said to Blackwood: "What are you doing?" She said that Blackwood then said: "OK Bobby, that's enough."
When Kinard left, Blackwood followed his truck and provided a dispatcher with information about the shooting, Peper said.
Blackwood was about half a mile away when police pulled Kinard's truck over at Wando Park Boulevard and Long Point Road, and officers shouted for him to turn off the vehicle, Peper said.
After getting no response, they approached the truck, found Kinard unresponsive, and smashed a window to get in, according to the police report.
Along with the revolver, officers found a box of ammunition on the passenger seat and a second gun in the center console, the report states.
Mount Pleasant police questioned Blackwood early Friday and will likely speak to him mor
e, Peper said. He said police took Blackwood's video camera into evidence.
Police have not yet asked for the phone records and the text messages that Peper said will corroborate Blackwood's version of events. Peper said those records will be handed over immediately when police ask.
In addition to political and legal work, Kinard, a former helicopter machine-gunner, served as chairman of the effort to create a Lowcountry monument to Vietnam veterans.
He was born in Charleston and graduated from North Charleston High School in 1964. He graduated from The Citadel in 1972 and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1975, the same year he was admitted to the South Carolina Bar.
He was in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970 and served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969. He served in the S.C. House from 1976 to 1980 and was chairman of the Charleston County legislative delegation from 1978 through 1980.
He served as chief municipal judge for the city of North Charleston from 1981 through 1988 and was a prosecuting attorney for the city of Hanahan.
Kinard's funeral is Wednesday, followed by burial with military honors.