Police: Man charged with fatal shooting has criminal history - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Police: Man charged with fatal shooting has criminal history

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Preston Oates Preston Oates

By Brian Entin - bio | email

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - A tow-truck driver remains behind bars accused of fatally shooting a man.

Neighbors just miles away say the same tow truck driver, Preston Oates, shot at them.

He was charged more than two years ago with assault with intent to kill, according to police. But then the charges were dropped.

Neighbors said that when they heard it was Preston Oates involved in this latest shooting, they were not surprised.

"He shot a couple of times. He hit my house … hit the neighbor's house where the kids sleep. Luckily, the kids weren't home," neighbor Luis Almendarez said.

Just like the Christmas Eve shooting, police say Oates claimed self defense. He told police he felt threatened by a couple of men. Police said they found 10 shell casings.

Almendarez said the bullets barely missed his friend. "When he was jumping to dodge the bullets one of them went through his shirt. The police took that into evidence," Almendarez said.

Police said they had plenty of witness statements, but the charges were eventually dropped.

The solicitor said they couldn't prosecute Oates because the witnesses stopped cooperating.

Neighbors WTOC spoke with said that some of the witnesses may not have had their citizenship and were nervous to get involved.

No one with Pro-Tow, the company Oates is part owner of, were available to comment.

Oates is charged with voluntary manslaughter and remains behind bars with no bond.

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