10 years on, SC bike shop killings still unsolved

Nov 3, 2013, 3:12 PM

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – After nearly 10 years and more than 750 leads, law enforcement officials and victims’ families remain stumped in one of South Carolina’s most heinous killings: A gunman who walked into a motorcycle shop, killed the owner and three employees, and slipped out undetected.

Nov. 6 will mark a decade since the deaths at Superbike Motorsports in Spartanburg County, on a two-lane highway headed from the city toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sheriff Chuck Wright has vowed to get the killer off the street, but he now admits he may be waiting for a jailhouse confession.

For the families of the store’s owner, service manager, mechanic and bookkeeper, the search for answers is taking a toll. The parents of one victim moved to South Carolina to find justice, but say their hopes that the killer will face justice are fading.

Veteran law enforcement officials say that in recent state history, they can’t remember another mass shooting remaining unsolved for so long.

Investigators say all four victims were killed with the same 9 mm pistol. They think the killer came in the back, perhaps through an open garage door, and killed mechanic Chris Sherbert, 26, as he worked. Bookkeeper Beverly Guy, 52, was found just outside the bathroom in the middle of the showroom. Her son, shop owner Scott Ponder, 30, was found just outside the door in the parking lot, and service manager Brian Lucas, 29, in the doorway; officials say they may have been trying to run. They also cite evidence that the killer may have circled back and shot some victims in the head to ensure they were dead. He was a good shot: Officials say he missed his moving targets only a few times.

Wright says that just before the deaths, Ponder had started a bill of sale for a motorcycle about to be sold. He hadn’t written down the customer’s name, credit card number or other identifying information.

Investigators won’t say whether there were unidentified fingerprints or DNA in the shop _ only that forensic evidence is limited.

“I think this one will be solved in the jailhouse,” Wright recently told The Associated Press. “There are very few cold-blooded killers who won’t talk.”

Wright was elected sheriff in 2004, about a year after the shootings. He said the investigation could have been handled better but wouldn’t give specifics, mentioning only that crime scene technicians missed processing an entire room and had to return the next day.

Wright and his investigators are pushing hard a revised sketch of a customer who was in the store less than an hour before the killings. When Wright released the drawing in March 2012, he said he thought that man was the killer. Now Wright says he’s not so sure, but he still believes the man has information to crack the case.

Investigators do think the killer was a disgruntled customer. Through the Internet, Ponder sold nationwide. A map in the sheriff’s office has pushpins where Ponder’s motorcycles were sold. Each pin is somewhere a suspect might live, a place where investigators want to get the word out.

The victims’ families have their theories, too. “It runs through my mind constantly,” said Lorraine Lucas, the mother of Brian Lucas. “I run that day through my head when I first wake up, and it is the last thing I do at night.”

Time has given the families plenty of chances to come up with motives. Some are bizarre, they admit, but with no arrests, they say no one can be sure.

Ponder was searching for his biological father, who disappeared decades ago _ maybe the killer didn’t want the shop owner to learn about his dad. Maybe a rival motorcycle owner was angry about Ponder’s success and decided to cut out the competition. Maybe the man who discovered the bodies should be looked at _ he saw Ponder and Lucas bleeding just outside the shop and stepped over his dead friends to call 911 from inside the shop even though he had a cellphone.

“We want them to look at every single angle, just not that it was a customer angry at the business,” said Tom Lucas, Brian’s father.

On Nov. 6, the families will gather in Spartanburg to celebrate their loved ones’ lives. One of the speakers will be Scotty Ponder, 9 _ his mother was pregnant with him when father Scott Ponder was killed.

Since the shooting, Melissa Ponder has gone through two divorces. She said she was shattered over losing Scott and is now sorry she has brought men into her life and into that tough situation.

“I used to think, there’s no way a crime this big is not going to get solved. But the fact somebody was able to pull the trigger, end four people’s lives and go on their way and hasn’t felt bad for 10 years, I don’t know,” she said.

Tom and Lorraine Lucas also feel their hope fading. Tom Lucas said he looks down the road to the 20th anniversary of his son’s death and can see himself with a walker, still raising hell.

“How can you get away with a killing like this?” Lorraine Lucas said.

The families say they understand that the sheriff’s office is trying to solve the case, and Wright said it keeps him up at night, too. He said he doesn’t fault the families for holding on to any theory or version of events.

“But in the end, I need probable cause. I need a case that can go to trial,” Wright said.

Terry Guy lost his wife, Beverly Guy, and his stepson. He said he used to dream that deputies would allow him into the killer’s cell so he could get his own justice. But over the past 10 years, he’s had a change of heart. He fell in love with and married Brian Lucas’ sister. Now, Guy said, he just wants to offer the killer forgiveness, and he’s sure of only one thing about the investigation.

“I know what I’ve done, and I know I didn’t do it,” Guy said. “So who is a suspect? Everyone but me.”


Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

The image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols on the g...
Associated Press

Memphis authorities release video in Tyre Nichols’ death

Video showing Memphis officers beating a Black man was made public Friday after they were charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.
23 hours ago
Demonstrators stage a rally in front of the White House to celebrate President Joe Biden's plan to ...
Kevin Stone

Lawsuits keeping over 300,000 Arizonans from getting student loan relief

Lawsuits are preventing more than 300,000 Arizonans from having some or all of their student debt dismissed, the Biden administration said Friday.
23 hours ago
FILE -  A Goodyear tire sits on display at a tire shop on Feb. 12, 2014, in South Euclid, Ohio. A f...
Associated Press

Arizona lawyer subpoenaed in criminal investigation of Goodyear tires

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles is gathering evidence in a criminal investigation of Goodyear recreational vehicle tires.
2 days ago
Following days of rain, floodwaters cover streets in the Planada community of Merced County, Calif....
Associated Press

Atmospheric rivers in California boost water allocation for cities

Public water agencies in California will be getting more water from the state because of recent heavy rain.
2 days ago
(Brian Munoz/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)...
Associated Press

FDA declines to regulate CBD; calls on Congress for fix

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements under the agency’s current structure and called on Congress to create new rules for the massive and growing market. The marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods, while their […]
2 days ago
FILE - An employee works in the battery assembly hall at the BMW Spartanburg plant in Greer, S.C., ...
Associated Press

US economy slowed but still grew at 2.9% rate last quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s estimate from the Commerce Department showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
10 years on, SC bike shop killings still unsolved