Sumter officers identify 3 men in connection with North Purdy shooting that killed innocent driver; 1 wanted, considered armed and dangerous


Sumter area law enforcement officials have identified three men in connection with the North Purdy shooting on Monday, May 20, and are asking for the public’s help locating one of them and identifying two additional people thought to be involved.

Sumter Police Department and Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said there were five people involved in Monday’s shooting that killed Blaine Varner, 59, of Sumter. Varner, a physician assistant for Tandem Health with more than 20 years of experience, according to the Tandem Health website, was going about his day when a bullet went through his vehicle, fatally wounding him, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said during a Friday, May 24, news conference.

The two men in custody are 20-year-old Travis Threll Rembert Jr. of Ashton Mill Drive and 26-year-old Kalvin Dontavious Epps of West Oakland Avenue. An award of up to $5,000 is being offered for information that can help find 18-year-old Di’Mitirus Ta’Lil Reed of Weatherly Court. He is wanted on a murder charge and could be armed and dangerous, law enforcement officials say. He goes by Lil Mickey.

Roark said the individuals involved in the shooting were in the middle of illegally selling a firearm and two of those individuals in a white truck have not been identified.

“Information gathered by officers indicates the incident began with a planned sale and purchase of a firearm between two of the suspects at a West Oakland Avenue residence,” according to a release. “During that transaction, a white GMC pickup truck drove by firing shots. The suspects then got in their respective vehicles, with passengers, giving chase through a residential area.”

Officers responded to 9-1-1 calls of shots being fired just after 12:30 p.m. on Monday and found Varner. He was not involved in the fray, according to a news release, but he was struck in the crossfire and crashed into a brick fence on Saratoga Street during the chase. He died the next day at Prisma Health Tuomey.

According to the release, Epps was found in the Magnolia Street area and taken into custody. He was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana, second offense. On Wednesday, Rembert was taken into custody during a traffic stop. He is charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. More charges could be filed during the investigation, and the men are being held in the county jail.

The GMC truck involved was found abandoned and was reported to be stolen from a county residence earlier that day.

“[Varner] didn’t know it, but he left his house that day, and it was his last day,” Roark said. “His last opportunity to tell his wife and his family that he cares for and loves them. His last opportunity to see a sunrise and a sunset. His last opportunity to live.”

If you have information on the shooting, the stolen truck and/or can help identify others involved in the shooting, contact Sumter Police Department immediately at (803) 436-2700. Tips also can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or submitted online at or by using the P3tips app that is available for iOS (Apple) or Android devices.

“We do ask the community if you know something, know of somebody that may have some information, please call in,” City of Sumter Mayor David Merchant said during the press conference. “Help get closure for this family and the community.”