A Forest Acres police officer has died after a Wednesday morning shooting at a mall in the Columbia suburb.
Police Chief Gene Sealy said Officer Greg Alia died from injuries he suffered in the shooting at Richland Mall. Sealy identified the suspect in the shooting as 34-year-old Jarvis Hall of Eastover. He said Hall was in custody.
“Our hearts are broken,” Sealy said. “Forest Acres is a small community (with a) small police department. We’re one big family.”
The State Law Enforcement Division said Hall is now charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He could face the death penalty if the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office chooses to prosecute him as a capital case. SLED has taken over the investigation at the request of Forest Acres PD since the victim worked for the police department.
Alia was one of two officers who responded just before 9:00 a.m. over reports of a suspicious person inside the largely-vacant mall about three miles east of downtown Columbia. The chief said the two officers approached Hall in a van outside the mall. During their questioning, Hall became uncooperative and fled into the mall.
The suspect fled towards a bookstore inside, but Alia caught up with him and the two got into a struggle. At that point, police said Hall pulled out a .40-caliber handgun and shot Alia. The other officers now on the scene were able to subdue Hall.
Officers from the Columbia Police Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene.
Hall has a recent arrest, according to Richland County court records. He was charged with refusal to stop on police command on August 30. The records show Hall had received a personal recognizance bond the day of his arrest, but the records suggest he did not show up for a bench trial. He was tried in abstentia and sentenced to 30 days in prison on September 16. That could have been suspended if he had paid a $262.50 fine, but the records say the fine remains unpaid.
The State newspaper reported Hall was also convicted earlier this month for unlawfully carrying a firearm. He agreed to pay a $1,120 fine in lieu of jail time.
Officer Alia was a seven-year law enforcement veteran. He graduated from Richland Northeast High School and the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He was married and recently became a father, according to Chief Sealy.
He is the first South Carolina officer killed in the line of duty in 2015. The last officer to be killed by a suspect was Charleston County Deputy Joe Matuskovic in September 2014.