CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Authorities in Charleston are investigating an early morning homicide that happened near King Street and Clifford Street.
According to the Charleston Police Department, a couple was walking near the intersection around 6:15 a.m. when they were approached by two black males – one of which was armed with a handgun – and demanded money from the victims.
One of the victims, later identified as Tom DiLorenzo, was shot during the attempted robbery while his wife, Suzanne Austin, was not physically injured. The suspects fled the scene.
DiLorenzo was transported to the Medical University of South Carolina where he later died.
The victims were identified by the College of Charleston’s President Andrew Hsu. He said Austin is the college’s new Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs.
The robbery and shooting happened just blocks away from the College’s campus.
According to Chief Deputy Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal, DiLorenzo, 63, died at MUSC just before 7:00 a.m.
Police have not released any details regarding a suspect as of Friday afternoon; however, they released images of a vehicle that was involved in the incident.
The vehicle in question is a 2005 Acura TL with South Carolina license plate SPM409. Police believe it was occupied by three males possibly in their mid-to-late teens.
If you have any information on the vehicle or the incident, you are encouraged to contact the Charleston Police Department immediately.
“Our time with Tom was too short – much too short. He and Suzanne had only just moved to Charleston a few weeks ago. But I would like to share just a few details about Tom so that you may better know the person we lost,” said CofC President Andrew Hsu.
He went on to say, “Tom had recently retired from the University of North Dakota in June after serving there as provost and vice president of academic affairs for seven years. Tom was celebrated not only for his collaborative leadership style, but also his belief in experiential learning and how the city of Grand Forks served as an extension of the UND classroom. Given time, Tom would have seen parallels of that dynamic here in Charleston as well.
From what I understand, Tom – as you would expect of any lifelong academician – held education in the highest esteem, even calling it the “ultimate equalizer” because he knew that education was the only way a person could take full control of his/her/their life and ensure a future of success.
This is a moment of great sorrow for the entire College of Charleston community. In this difficult time, I want to express heartfelt condolences to Suzanne and the Austin and DiLorenzo families. It is imperative that we, as a campus community, come together now to support Suzanne and her family as they mourn the untimely loss of a husband and father.”
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg also released a statement on the shooting saying all of Charleston was ‘shocked and horrified’ by the senseless murder of Tom DiLorenzo and called it a cruel act of violence that “has no place in our city.”
He went on to say, “Our hearts go out to Mr. DiLorenzo’s family and friends, and to the whole College of Charleston community at this terrible time.”
In his statement Friday afternoon, Mayor Tecklenburg said Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds reported that this was a tragic and isolated incident and said his officers are working to identify the perpatrators.
“Neither the City of Charleston nor our Police Department will rest until the people who committed this terrible crime have been brought to justice,” he said.
The University of North Dakota where DiLorenzo worked for seven years before retiring and moving to the Lowcountry released a statement late Friday afternoon.
“During his tenure, he served four presidents and devoted great time and energy to advancing UND during difficult budgetary years, always guided by the best interest of our students, faculty, staff and the institution. He worked tirelessly to advance the One UND Strategic Plan, and led initiatives to increase student retention and improve graduation rates. He also strengthened UND’s relationship with the City of Grand Forks and grew internships for students throughout the community. Graduate enrollment is at an all-time high as is the Honors Program and our research portfolio. UND is now ranked #4 nationally in Military Friendliness, largely due to Provost DiLorenzo’s service as the Champion of Goal #6 of the Strategic Plan.
“With his superhuman work ethic, Tom gave his heart and soul to the University up until his very last day at UND,” said UND President Andy Armacost. “He led the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He initiated programs that strengthened ties between UND and the Grand Forks community. And to improve the academic experience for UND students, he implemented programs that have resulted in better graduation and retention rates. Tom did all that was asked of him and then more. It was the kind of person he was.
“We offer our condolences to Suzanne and the rest of Tom’s family at this very tragic time,” said Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. “Dr. DiLorenzo was dedicated to the University of North Dakota for seven years before his recent retirement and his sudden death leaves us to mourn his loss as well as have deep respect and reverence for his service to his campus community.”
“Tom invested in people and challenged them to grow and learn,” said Debbie Storrs, interim provost. “He cared deeply about UND. He encouraged us to think differently, look forward, and envision a better university. He was committed to equity and hired many women into leadership positions. With his leadership, we made great progress at the university in many areas in the past seven years, including improving student success. His new adventure was abruptly ended. It is hard to put to words the sadness, especially in the world we live in today. He will be missed. His impression on UND is felt, and we will continue to think forward. My thoughts are with his family.”
“I worked productively with former provost DiLorenzo for his entire, roughly seven-year tenure at the University of North Dakota,” said Dr. Joshua Wynne, vice president for health affairs, dean of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences, and former interim president. “He was incredibly helpful during my one-year tenure as interim president. I found him to be a person of high standards and an incredibly hard worker. I am very saddened by his unfortunate passing. I wish his wife and family the most sincere of condolences.”