He and other detectives were making a traffic stop at Highway 17 and Coleman Boulevard on a suspected drug dealer at the time. The detectives surrounded the car with Detective Messer in front. The driver stepped on the accelerator throwing Detective Messer on the hood. Then the brakes were applied, throwing Messer off the hood and into the path of the car. He was dragged underneath the car for about 200 feet as it sped away.
Detective Messer was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
The 22-year-old suspect was arrested a few hours later after abandoning the car and was sentenced to 27 years in prison. He was paroled after serving only 9 years.
Detective Messer, 28, was survived by his wife, to whom he had only been married one month. He had served with the Charleston County Police Department for nearly six years. Detective Messer was a veteran of the United States Army.
William Patrick Messer’s name has been engraved at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Memorial at the Statehouse in Columbia and the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, located on panel 23, W -12. A plaque bearing his name is also displayed at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame in Columbia.