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The ripple effect of social media leader Trey Pennington’s death has touched friends and family in the Upstate, as well as the online community here and around the world.

Pennington, 46, died Sunday morning under a big oak tree near the parking lot of Second Presbyterian Church on River Street in Greenville. Police said that officers went to the church after a report of a man with a gun.

The officers said they asked Pennington several times to put down the gun, but he turned the weapon on himself and fired once.

Richard Phillips, senior minister at Second Presbyterian, said that Pennington shot himself in the stomach. Phillips was not present when the shot was fired, but some parishioners witnessed the shooting.

Phillips said, “Our friend Trey died with Christians who knew and loved him, literally reaching out to him — literally pleading with him to turn to the Lord and to choose another path. While it’s shocking and terrifying in its own way, I can see how it came together for him. But ultimately we don’t know.”

He said that Pennington was not supposed to be at the church.

“There was a restraining order with respect to his family, which is why he couldn’t be here,” Phillips said.

Friends said that Pennington was going through a difficult divorce.

Pennington’s friend, James Akers, said, “There are some of us who knew that there were some struggles going on. We obviously never knew it would get to this point. He did a really good job covering it up. Actually, it kind of scares me that he did such a good job covering it up.”

Phillips said the details of exactly what led Pennington to take his life are just not known.

“For me, it didn’t begin Sunday,” Phillips said. “I had a long ministry relationship with Trey and his family, and had been ministering with him through the process.”


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