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SC elementary school principal shot, killed; suspect arrested

Wendy Cook was a principal at Stewart Height Elementary School in Dillon School District Four. The shooting suspect is in custody.

DILLON COUNTY, S.C. — A school district is mourning the loss of a principal after officials say she was shot and killed inside of a car.

Wendy Cook, 54, died from gunshot wounds on Sunday. Dillon County Sheriff's Office deputies were called to Southwind Road near Dillon, South Carolina around 3:15 a.m. on Sunday and found Cook with a gunshot wound and Kyle Church, 31, the suspected shooter, both inside of a vehicle.

Church was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He is being held in the custody of the Dillon County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators have not released a motive for the shooting. They believe Church and Cook were acquaintances, according to the Associated Press

Cook worked as a principal at Stewart Heights Elementary School for Dillon School District Four. She was employed with the district for nearly 25 years, according to the Associated Press.

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Following her death, the school district posted a memorial for Cook on Facebook.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also responded to the incident and expressed sadness about her passing.

“Her colleagues and friends in the Dillon County School District 4 talk about the great work she did leading her school and the many impacts she had on her students and staff,” Spearman said. “My deepest condolences are with the entire Dillon school community as they grieve this loss.”

Church's next court date is scheduled for Oct. 5, according to court records. He is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit where he is accused of causing a crash that killed a man in June 2020 in Dillon County. This case is ongoing.

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