CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A payphone outside a Charleston Go-Mart reminds people of the first sniper-style shooting that started a week of panic 10 years ago Saturday.
A gas pump at a Campbells Creek convenience store prompts customers to chat about the second shooting there, four days later. Customers point to the after-hours window at a Cedar Grove gas station and recall the hysteria triggered by a third shooting later that night.
The three slayings triggered a wave of nervousness for residents and a massive hunt for the shooter. Police investigated thousands of tips, but years passed without an arrest.
It wasn't until 2011 when Shawn Lester, 38, was named in connection to the slayings. Police said Lester committed at least two of the shootings in retaliation for the theft of an engine block full of rare pink-tinted methamphetamine.
Lester was eventually charged in all three killings. He pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder in one of the slayings, and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
As the 10th anniversary of the shootings approached, several residents in the areas told the Gazette that after a decade looking back, they knew the slayings were connected to drugs all along.
"There's so much drugs around through here that people say they are afraid of it happening again soon," said Cathy Miller, 35, of Cedar Grove.
Miller has worked at the Speedway gas station in Campbells Creek for about three years. That's where Jeanie Patton was slain in 2003.
"People come in and talk about it all the time," Miller said.
Gary Carrier Jr., 44, of South Charleston was the first victim. He was shot just after 11 p.m. on Aug. 10, 2003, while using a pay phone outside a Go-Mart store on Bigley Avenue in Charleston.
Four days later, Patton, 31, of Campbells Creek, was killed around 10:20 p.m. while pumping gasoline into her red Firebird at the Speedway on Campbells Creek Drive.
A little more than an hour later, Okey Meadows Jr., 26, of Campbells Creek, was shot in the neck outside a Cedar Grove Go-Mart.
Earlier this week, Rob Elswick of Campbells Creek pointed this week to where Patton was pumping gas when shot.
"People still talk about it -- it's brought up quite a bit," Elswick said. "I'm glad the guy got caught. He was moving big-time drugs."