Approximately 150 protesters had demonstrated against racial segregation at the All-Star Bowling Alley on several occasions prior to the Orangeburg Massacre. On the evening of February 8, 1968, South Carolina State University (SCSU) students started a bonfire on the front of campus, which is located in Orangeburg, South Carolina. As police and firefighters attempted to put out the fire, officer David Shealy was injured by a thrown object. South Carolina Highway Patrol officers fired shots at the protestors.
Three of the protestors, African American males, were killed and twenty-eight other protesters were injured. The three men killed included two SCSU students Samuel Hammond (18), Henry Smith (18), and Delano Middleton (17), a student at the local Wilkinson High School.
At a press conference the following day, Governor Robert E. McNair said the event was "...one of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina."