Just before a bullet blasted through the ceiling of his hotel room, James Stephens had been wishing the people upstairs would quiet down so he could sleep.
Then, he felt the bullet hit his toe, and he knew exactly what had happened. After nine years in the military and a year in Afghanistan, Stephens knew he had been shot.
“I knew what had happened, that bullet came straight through the ceiling,” he said.
Stephens ran upstairs to try to figure out what was going, and then talked with police, who were also trying to sort through another shooting that happened outside of the extended stay hotel in Greenwood, near Interstate 65 and County Line Road. Emergency workers treated him at the scene.
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Police were called to the hotel at 1099 Greenwood Springs Drive at 2:20 a.m. Thursday, after shots were fired.
Stephens, 40, was struck in the toe when a gun was fired in a second-floor hotel room, and the bullet traveled into his room below.
A second man, Ishmon Hester, 21, of Anderson, was found outside the hotel with a gunshot wound to his leg.
Police said Hester was in the second-floor hotel room when the gun was fired and ran with three other people — a 20-year-old and two women.
Another incident happened outside the hotel, and Hester was shot in the leg, and at least one person fled, but police did not yet know who that person was, a news release said. Hester’s wound was not considered to be life threatening, but he was in surgery on Thursday, police said.
On Thursday afternoon, police were working to sort out the details of who was involved and what led to the shootings. Investigators were reviewing surveillance footage. They found a handgun in a trash can outside the hotel, a lockbox, drug paraphernalia and cellphones, the release said.
Investigators were getting warrants for cellphones, and working on tracking down people believed to be at the hotel at the time of the shooting who left before police arrived, Greenwood Police Department spokeswoman Kortney Burrello said.
Stephens, who is originally from Johnson County and has been staying at the hotel since earlier this month, said he had noticed police routinely patrolling the area, and said now he knows why.
He didn’t sleep much that night, and was trying to figure out what had happened and what police were learning about the people in the room upstairs, he said.
He knew he had been shot with a .45 caliber handgun, because he saved the bullet. Outside, he saw casings from a 9 mm handgun, he said.
Stephens suspects that the shooting was related to drugs, based on the commotion he heard from the room upstairs before he was shot, he said.
“Most people here are good people, but a few bad people slip in,” he said.