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Thomas Burns, suspect in Virginia's on King shooting, has long, violent criminal past

Thomas Burns, suspect in deadly shooting at Virginia's on King restaurant Thursday, Aug. 24 (Al Cannon Detention Center)

The alleged disgruntled employee accused of fatally shooting the chef at Virginia’s on King restaurant Thursday has a long and violent criminal history, and was also ordered in the past to undergo a mental evaluation for possible schizophrenia in the past.

Thomas Burns, 53, remains hospitalized at MUSC after being shot by law enforcement Thursday. His condition is unknown, but was admitted in critical condition, according to law enforcement.

Burns was shot after he reportedly barricaded himself inside Virginia’s on King with a hostage after allegedly shooting executive chef Shane Whiddon. Whiddon was later pronounced dead at MUSC.

Court records obtained Friday show Burns during a trial for felony drug charges in April 2010 was ordered by Judge Kristi Harrington to undergo a mental evaluation.

Harrington said in the mental evaluation order she doubted Burns was competent to understand the trial process or assist in his own defense.

Harrington noted Burns had schizophrenia, and repeatedly accused his attorneys of working against him. Burns was eventually convicted.

A background check by SLED shows Burns also has multiple other convictions dating back to 1983 for armed robbery, assault and battery with intent to kill, weapons, drugs and property crimes.

Investigators have not revealed what crimes Burns may be charged with upon his release from the hospital, or a timetable for his release.

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