A 26-year-old Longs man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Monday for the shooting death of 18-year-old Quentin Reeves, who prosecutors say was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle that erupted in a Longs nightclub in 2015.
Gettie Levon Bellamy expressed remorse in the courtroom, admitting his guilt and sorrow before the judge declared a sentence of 10 years in prison.
“I know his family. He comes from a good family. I have to give him that,” Reeves’ mother, Pamela McNeil, said of Bellamy. “When he was in the courtroom today and he admitted to shooting, he didn’t lie, he admitted to shooting my son, I forgave him and from my heart because I have to live with that.”
McNeil asked the judge for leniency in the sentencing of her son’s killer.
Under state law, Bellamy will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he will be eligible for release. He was also given credit for the 19 months he served in jail awaiting trial.
“I will never see my son graduate or … pursue any of his dreams, but I didn’t want him (Bellamy) to be in jail the rest of his life,” McNeil said. “Everybody deserves a second chance and he deserves one too.”
Prosecutors say at least four suspects opened fire at the Party Shop in the early morning of April 18, 2015 just hours after Reeves’ high school senior prom had ended.
Reeves hadn’t gone to the prom, but did go to an after-party nearby that night before heading to the Party Shop within a mile of his home, his mother said.
Police say Bellamy arrived at the club in a car with 21-year-old Tommy Bell, II, who is also facing a murder charge in the case, 24-year-old Lindsey Walton and 21-year-old Bradley Gore, who have been indicted on accessory after the fact charges. Police found 24 shell casings, nine from an AK-47 that matched the bullet that cut through Reeves’ chest, exiting his right shoulder, according to Assistant Solicitor Josh Holford.
“Quentin was one of a number of people who was out there that night,” Holford said, but with nearly 30 shots fired he was the only one struck.
Holford said Reeves was an “innocent bystander.”
McNeil was home and had just laid down when she heard about her son.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” McNeil said. “Just as soon as I laid down, my sister come to my room and said something happened to Quentin and we need to go to Wampee. ... When we got there, it was at the Party Shop. There was so many cars, so many people out there and my son was laying on the ground.”
“He was gone, just that fast,” McNeil said as tears flooded her eyes. “He was 18 years old. … He had just had a birthday and it was just so disturbing.”
“Quentin was a bright young man,” McNeil said, always “full of joy. His favorite thing was video games. His favorite food was spaghetti. He loved friends. He enjoyed being around his family. He also loved to sing and dance and he loved to go to church.”
Reeves was killed mere weeks before his high school graduation.
“We’re still left with why. What was the reason? None of the witnesses out there, even the ones that came forward would say what it was about, what caused the shooting,” Holford said. “What we do know is that the defendant had a criminal record. He shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place. He had an AK-47 and he took that to a location and a gun battle ensued.”
“It was a senseless killing,” Holford said.
Bellamy had served time after pleading guilty to an armed robbery charge in North Carolina four years before the shooting. He was stripped of his right to possess a firearm after his felony conviction.
Bellamy requested a “stand your ground” hearing on the murder charge last year, telling the court in October that he was fired upon in the club that night and fired back in self defense. The judge denied his motion of dismissal under self defense, green-lighting the case for trial. McNeil was grateful to see the case concluded without suffering the pain of a trial.
“Maybe he will have a chance to start a new life and he learned something from this,” McNeil said of Bellamy. “Maybe he can become an advocate towards people that been in trouble before. … I hope that’s what happens with him and I hope he changes his life.”
McNeil pleads with young men and women to listen to their parents.
“Trouble is very, very easy to get in, but it’s hard to get out. Nobody wants to be at the Horry County courthouse where your son or daughter is somebody on trial for killing,” she said. “Just listen to what your folks tell you and sometimes it will take you a long way.”
Bellamy originally was charged with murder and possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. The charges were dismissed in the voluntary manslaughter plea agreement.
Bell’s trial is slated for later this week. No trial dates have been set yet for Walton and Gore.