*Editor’s Note: Veterans or service members experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 988 or at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.
The Army identified the U.S. Army Central soldier who died along with three children following a mass shooting at a fellow sergeant major’s home late Tuesday in Sumter, South Carolina.
Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Evans, 38, was shot and later died at a local hospital, according to authorities and an Army release. Evans, of Petersburg, Virginia, served as the senior enlisted leader for the command’s headquarters battalion at nearby Shaw Air Force Base.
The command’s top general, Lt. Gen. Patrick Frank called Evans an “outstanding leader and caring friend” in a statement accompanying the release. “We collectively mourn the immense loss of his presence in our lives and our thoughts and prayers are extended to CSM Evans’ family.”
Charles Slacks Jr., the shooter identified by officials, was a combat-wounded former Army staff sergeant turned civilian employee with the command. Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference that Slacks died by suicide immediately following the shootings.
The tragedy occurred at the home of Slacks’ ex-wife, Sgt. Maj. Aletha Holliday, who survived the attack unharmed, Roark said. Holliday is the mother of all three children who died — the oldest child was hers from a previous relationship, and Slacks fathered the two younger victims.
The four people killed in addition to Slacks include:
- Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Evans, 38.
- Aayden Holliday-Slacks, 5.
- Aason Holliday-Slacks, 6.
- Ava Holliday, 11.
Slacks and Holliday co-owned the home and were divorced on March 3, the Post and Courier newspaper in Columbia reported.
Evans, the command sergeant major, who Roark said was not romantically involved with Holliday, was speaking with her in the home’s backyard when Slacks used his key to enter the home. The assailant then entered the yard and fatally shot Evans.
Holliday chased Slacks back into the home, where he went upstairs to the children’s bedrooms, according to the police chief. After he pointed his weapon at her, she went to retrieve Evans’ phone and contact authorities.
But as the female sergeant major struggled to find Evans’ cell phone, Slacks killed the three children in their bedrooms, Roark said. Holliday ran back into the home after hearing the shots and witnessed Slacks’ death by suicide at the top of the stairs.
The sergeant major then found the children’s bodies and called 911 from her cell phone, which had been charging in an upstairs bedroom, the police chief said. While on the phone, Holliday went and found a neighbor, seeking more immediate assistance. But Slacks and the children were dead, and Evans was dying — responding medics and doctors at a local hospital couldn’t save him.
Evans joined the Army in July 2002. He received an Army Commendation Medal for valor in combat while deployed to Iraq, the Army release said. He previously served as an instructor at the service’s Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and was working towards a doctorate degree in organizational leadership, according to his profile on LinkedIn.
His individual accolades also included the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and the Air Assault Badge, in addition to other decorations, service awards and badges.
The shooting remains under investigation, local authorities said.
“It touches all when you have a situation where little children are sleeping in the comfort of their own bed … and they all have their life taken, particularly, by a father and a stepfather,” Roark said previously. “That’s difficult for us to rationalize.”
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.