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USC Upstate student's alleged killer arrested

Rodderick Sparks, 23, was scheduled to graduate in May. (Credit to: Social Media, Spartanburg County Sheriff Office)

Three arrests have been made in the Dec. 21 shooting death of a University of South Carolina Upstate senior.

Rodderick Sparks, 23, was killed at the Pinegate Apartments on Pinegate Drive, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright announced at a media conference Monday.

Sparks, who was scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in business management, was found lying on a walkway and later died at the hospital, according to a crime report. Sparks was shot in the back, according to the report. Sparks’ father is a narcotics officer in Fairfield.

Wright and SCSO officials announced the following arrests and charges of those reportedly involved in the shooting:

• Tyshawn Isaac Gray Jordan, 19, of Moore, charged with murder, • Marquese Dashawn Tart, of Spartanburg, accessory after the fact of murder, out on bond,

• Trajan Jasiah Mack, of Columbia, accessory after the fact of murder, out on bond and placed on home detention with a GPS monitor.

“Seems like there was an argument or some targeting going on here, but whatever the case may be, my message to the younger generation; this is not how you solve your problems,” Wright said.

Wright said Tart was taken into custody on Feb. 10, Mack turned himself in and Jordan fled South Carolina and was taken into custody in Springfield, Mass. He is in the Spartanburg County Jail.

It’s the second murder of a USC Upstate student by gunshot within two years. Evan Jeffery Gaines, a senior, died from a gunshot at Campus Edge Apartments on March 26, 2019. Five men, all from Columbia, traveled to Spartanburg County to commit the crime, according to Wright.

Upstate Interim Chancellor J. Derham Cole, Jr., released a message to the Upstate Campus Community on Monday.

“As you are aware, just prior to the December holidays, our university community experienced a tragedy with the death of USC Upstate student Rodderick Sparks. Rodderick was a 23 year-old Interdisciplinary Studies major, and passed away following a shooting that occurred at the nearby Pinegate Apartments. “Earlier today, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office announced it has made several arrests in connection with Rodderick’s death. The USC Upstate Police Department assisted in the investigation that led to these arrests. While the arrests constitute a step toward closure, we ask that you continue to hold the Sparks family in your thoughts as they continue to cope with this tremendous loss. The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are – and always will be – our top priority. Counseling services are available for any student or employee who may need these resources. Students may contact USC Upstate Counseling Services at 864-503-5195. Faculty and staff may reach our Employee Assistance Program at 800-633-3353,” the statement concluded.

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