One suspect is in custody and a Florence police officer is deceased after eight people, seven of which were law enforcement officers, were shot in Florence Wednesday evening.
Sources tell News13 Fred Hopkins is the suspect arrested in the shooting that happened in the Vintage Place neighborhood just west of Florence city limits off Hoffmeyer Rd.
The Associated Press reports that Wednesday night, officers were trying to serve a warrant involving an accusation that a 27-year-old person in the home sexually assaulted a foster child in the home.
Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken identified the officer who died as Terrence Carraway, 52, of Darlington. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital and an autopsy will be conducted on Thursday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. No other details on other victims’ conditions is available.
“Today will mark a very horrific day in the annals of the Florence Police department,” said Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler. “Today we lost a good friend of mine, an officer that I’ve known for 30 years. We have three other [city police] officers at this particular time who are receiving attention at this hospital.”
Heidler and other local leaders were visibly emotional during a press conference Wednesday night.
“These officers went there unknowing the fire power this suspect had,” said sheriff Kenny Boone during the press conference. “And again, they thought it was a random search warrant. But, when they arrived, gun fire started, several officers were hit.
“Fire was being shot all over. The way the suspect was positioned, his view of fire was several hundred yards. He had and advantage. The officers couldn’t get to the ones that were down.”
Boone said as gunfire continued an armored vehicle was used to move in and recover the law enforcement officers who had been shot.
According to a press release from Florence County Emergency Medical Services, EMS personnel responded to reports of shots fired and an officer down at 932 Ashton Drive in Florence around 4:37 p.m. on Wednesday. A total of 12 patients were transported to two local trauma centers, including seven law enforcement officers and five civilians.
Of the seven law enforcement officers transported, five were taken to McLeod Medical Center and two were taken to Carolinas Hospital Systems, Florence County EMS’s release says. Of the five civilians transported, four were taken to Carolinas Hospital Systems and one was taken to McLeod Medical Center.
According to Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect surrendered to deputies after talking with a negotiator and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Kirby said a 20-year-old male inside the home was also shot and is still alive.
The first confirmation of the shooting came earlier in the day around 4:55 p.m. when Kirby said that a shooting had occurred in the area of Hoffmeyer Road near the Vintage Place neighborhood.
Florence County Emergency Management officials said on Facebook around 6 p.m. on Wednesday that a suspect was in custody and the “active shooting situation is over.” Officials asked people to stay away from the area as “there is still an active crime investigation in progress.”
Florence County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Major Mike Nunn said the suspect held children hostage during a two-hour standoff, but they weren’t harmed.
Around 7:45 p.m.Wednesday, Kirby confirmed that four City of Florence police officers and three Florence County deputies had been shot. He also clarified that the deceased was an officer with the Florence Police Department.
According to a tweet from ATF HQ, ATF Special agents from the Charlotte Field Division are on the scene.
“This is simply devastating news from Florence. The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer is real,” South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said on Twitter. “Peggy and I ask that you pray for them, pray for their recovery, pray for their families, and pray for all of Florence.”
This is simply devastating news from Florence. The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer is real. (1/2)— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) October 3, 2018
Thom Berry, the public information officer for the SC Law Enforcement Division, released a statement, saying: “Our prayers continue for the family of Florence PD officer Carraway and the other wounded men and women of the Florence Police Department and Florence County Sheriff’s Office who are fighting for their lives. While we stand ready to offer any assistance and support, SLED was not asked to investigate the matter. We refer you to Florence County authorities about their decision.”
President Donald Trump also released a statement, saying on Twitter, “My thoughts and prayers are with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the Florence Police Department tonight, in South Carolina. We are forever grateful for what our Law Enforcement Officers do 24/7/365.”
My thoughts and prayers are with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the Florence Police Department tonight, in South Carolina. We are forever grateful for what our Law Enforcement Officers do 24/7/365. https://t.co/ZwDmDthItD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2018
The Horry County Police Department said in a tweet “Our thoughts and prayers are with our law enforcement family in Florence County tonight. We will do whatever we can to help you and your loved ones through this terrible time. Our thoughts and prayers are with our law enforcement family in Florence County tonight. We will do whatever we can to help you and your loved ones through this terrible time.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with our law enforcement family in Florence County tonight. We will do whatever we can to help you and your loved ones through this terrible time.— Horry County PD (@horrycountypd) October 4, 2018