Updated: 5:22 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 | Posted: 10:46 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013

Family: Rock Hill’s first homicide stems from card game dispute

By Greg Suskin

ROCK HILL, S.C. —

Johnny Ellison, 34, was supposed to be at work Friday. He was a long-time cook for Clay and Debbie Henderson, at Southern Salad and Sandwich in Rock Hill.

On Friday morning, a family member showed up at the Ebenezer Road restaurant, and told the couple Ellison had been killed.

"He wasn't just a good cook, he was family. I can't believe this has happened," said Debbie Henderson through tears.

"Everybody loved Johnny," her husband Clay added. "All he did was work. He was always here."

According to arrest warrants, Ellison was stabbed and shot in the head on Green Street early Thursday night. It was Rock Hill's first homicide of the year.

On Friday, two brothers, Jaris and David Williams were arrested and charged with the murder. Channel 9 spoke with Ellison's brother, Wade.

"They took my brother away from me. They took my only brother away from me. He didn't deserve that," Wade Ellison said.

He also told Channel 9 about a possible motive for the murder. He said his brother was playing a card game with some relatives and had won all their money. An argument started, and turned into a fist fight. Ellison said it escalated from there.

"They shot him right over there," he said, pointing to a neighbor's front yard on Green Street.

"He was still breathing. He opened his eyes, and when he opened his eyes I said, 'Johnny! Man talk to me.' He opened his eyes, and he smiled at me," he said.

Ellison later died at Piedmont Medical Center.

Police haven't commented on the official motive, but did say what eyewitnesses told them on the scene, matches what wade Ellison told Channel 9.

Bond will be denied for Jaris and David Williams. Arrests warrants don't specify which brother pulled the trigger.

Officers were still looking for the gun used in the murder on Friday afternoon. Police dogs searched an empty lot, and some woods not far from the crime scene on Green Street.

Family members told Channel 9 that Ellison leaves behind a long-time girlfriend, and a 10-year-old son. He was looking forward to a canoeing trip with his son in the coming weeks, and had talked about it at work.

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