Authorities identified a man who shot seven law enforcement officers outside a home on Wednesday, killing one.
WMBF-TV reports a Florence County Sheriff’s Office spokesman identified the shooter as 74-year-old Frederick Hopkins. The network reported Hopkins was taken to the hospital after he fell at the scene and has not spoken to officers. He is accused of opening fire at Florence County deputies who came to serve a warrant at his home, then shooting four more Florence city police who responded.
The Florence County Coroner’s Office said 52-year-old officer Terrence Carraway died at a hospital. Carraway was among four officers who responded in the second wave. Two deputies remain in critical condition, while one is listed as stable. The status of the other three officers is not clear.
“Today we lost a good friend of mine,” police chief Allen Heidler said. “An officer that I’ve known for 30 years.”
Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said Wednesday the incident began when deputies tried to serve a warrant at the home in Vintage Place, just outside the Florence city limits. The spokesman told WMBF that Hopkins was not the individual listed on the warrant. He said another individual who lived at the home was wanted for criminal sexual conduct towards a foster child. That individual has not been identified, although investigators said he was also shot in the incident.
“These officers went there unknowing of the firepower this suspect had,” Boone said. “They thought it was a random search warrant.”
Boone said the shooter had barricaded himself in the home and established a line of fire which put any officers approaching the house in danger. He said the fallen deputies and officers were eventually recovered with an MRAP vehicle.
The shootings clearly affected Heidler, who stepped away from a press conference outside the McLeod Regional hospital Wednesday night to embrace other Florence personnel. He called Carraway “the bravest police officer that I have ever known.”
“The officers are my family,” Heidler told reporters. “We will take care of them and we will take care of their loved ones. I want you to please pray for these officers and their speedy recovery.”
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation. Normally investigations of officer-involved shootings are done by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). However, it is up to the police department or sheriff’s office involved to formally request help. It was not immediately clear why Richland County deputies were chosen.
“This is simply devastating news from Florence,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer is real. Peggy and I ask that you pray for them, pray for their recovery, pray for their families, and pray for all of Florence.”
There have been 31 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina so far this year, according to State Law Enforcement Division figures. Back in January, four officers were ambushed by a domestic violence suspectin York County. Detective Mike Doty died in the incident.