The 911 call from inside the home of state Rep. Chris Corley is punctuated with screams of what the dispatcher believed were the Corleys’ children “begging for their father to stop.”
The first call late Monday went to the Aiken Public Safety Department, the city’s police agency. No one speaks during that call. All that can be heard are screams in the background.
“Please stop,” is screamed repeatedly. “Just stop, daddy. Just stop. Why are you doing this, daddy?”
There’s also, “Please, Chris,” presumably from Corley’s wife of 12 years.
Audio of the call on Monday night was released by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, just days after the 36-year-old Aiken legislator’s arrest on charges of domestic violence and pointing a gun at his wife.
The operator in the initial call, clearly shaken, calls the Aiken County 911 operator, in order to get deputies on the scene. Corley’s home is in Graniteville, a few miles from the county seat.
“I had a caller, sounded a lot like children screaming for help and begging for their father to stop,” the operator said. The call ends with the county operator saying she’ll dispatch deputies to the house the city operator suspects the call came from.
Sheriff’s deputies would later get a follow-up phone call from a different woman.
That caller, who is not identified but presumably is Corley’s mother-in-law, is heard telling deputies that a man with a gun “beat his wife and he’s threatening to kill his self (sic).” Corley’s wife and two of their children had fled across the street to her mother’s home.
In the background of the second recording, a calm female voice says, “Don’t get near the window, y’all.” That seems to be Corley’s wife talking to her children, who had witnessed the fight minutes before.
Corley would be arrested Tuesday on charges that he punched his wife in the face and threatened to kill her as he pointed a 9 mm pistol at her during an argument at their Graniteville home when she accused him of cheating, according to Aiken County sheriff’s records.
The Aiken Republican faces a felony charge of first-degree criminal domestic violence, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, if convicted. Corley also is charged with pointing and presenting a firearm.
Corley has no prior criminal record, according to State Law Enforcement Division records. But the seriousness of the charges position him to be suspended from his House seat if he’s indicted on the charges by an Aiken County grand jury. The jury meets next week.
Corley’s wife, who The State newspaper is not identifying by name, told deputies that the only thing that stopped Corley from firing were the screams of two of their children, ages 2 and 8, according to the deputies’ incident report.
The lawmaker then went into a bedroom, saying he “was going to kill himself,” his wife, 37, told deputies. As Corley headed for the bedroom, his wife and the children ran to her mother’s house across the street, the report states. The report does not mention a third child, who is listed in the current S.C. Legislative Manual.
Aiken County Magistrate Melanie DuBose on Tuesday restricted Corley, who is a lawyer, from handling any firearm, among other conditions of his $20,000 surety bond.
“If he’s caught in possession of a weapon, his bond can be revoked by a bond court judge,” said Capt. Eric Abdullah, an Aiken County sheriff’s spokesman.
Corley, elected in 2014, is a gun advocate. He co-sponsored a bill that granted reciprocity for gun owners in Georgia, allowing them to carry their weapons in South Carolina and vice-versa. He also supported a similar House bill that died in a Senate subcommittee earlier this year.
The lawmaker was a sponsor on a concurrent resolution declaring June 2015 “Gun Violence Awareness Month” to “raise awareness surrounding the issue of gun violence.”
Corley was little-known as a legislator until he thrust himself into the national spotlight in 2015. He suggested on the floor of the S.C House that removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds was equivalent to the state’s Republican Party surrendering to political correctness in the wake of the Charleston church shooting massacre.
In December of that year, Corley sent a Christmas card featuring a photo of the Confederate flag at the State House to some of his fellow representatives, advising they ask forgiveness for their betrayal. He said at the time that the card was meant for lawmakers who chose to rush political correctness over the views of their constituents rather than wait until the next legislative session.
“May your Christmas be filled with memories of a happier time when South Carolina’s leaders possessed morals, convictions and the principles to stand for what is right,” the card read. It finishes with: “May you have a blessed Christmas, and may you take this joyous time as an opportunity to ask for forgiveness of all your sins such as betrayal.”