FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Justice finally arrived on Thursday for the victims and families whose lives were changed forever after a deadly 2018 ambush of law enforcement officers in Florence County. 

Fred Hopkins Jr was sentenced to life in prison on two murder charges for shooting and killing two officers and wounding several others outside his home in the Vintage Place neighborhood more than five years ago. He was also given 30 years on each of the five attempted murder charges he faced.

Hopkins, 79, appeared in court in a wheelchair shortly after noon. Security outside the Florence County courthouse was tight Thursday morning as authorities prepared for the sentencing hearing.

Hopkins pleaded guilty a week ago to shooting and killing Florence Police Officer Terrence Carraway and Florence County Sheriff’s Office investigator Farrah Turner, and wounding several other officers. The plea entered in an Aiken County courtroom allowed him to avoid a death sentence, according to 12th Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements.

In a phone call in jail, Hopkins told his daughter “I’m just taking out the trash with that one,” about Turner.

In court on Thursday, Hopkins’ attorney claimed that Hopkins suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from his military service. After meeting with Hopkins on several occasions recently, attorney David Ferrier said they decided that the plea agreement was the best course of action.

“By accepting the plea that he’s going to today, he will at least have an acknowledgment between his service in the military and the trauma he faced that led him to the events of this explosive day,“ Hopkins’ attorney David Ferrier said.

He said Hopkins has no comment at this time.

The incident happened on Oct. 3, 2018, when authorities went to his home off Hoffmeyer Road in Florence to try to serve Hopkins’ son, Seth, who eventually pleaded guilty in December 2019 to a sex charge involving a minor and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

One of the surviving officers, Ben Price, testified at Thursday’s hearing and said Hopkins shot Turner after she was already unresponsive on the ground near the front porch of the residence.

Price said that their outfits clearly showed they were law enforcement, and that two of the five vehicles they were in were marked, suggesting Hopkins knew it was law enforcement.

The prosecution also claimed that the shooting was premeditated and that Hopkins told some people on his trivia team that he was going to shoot at officers if they came to his home.

Another one of the surviving officers, Sarah Miller, said Turner wanted to go to the house because Hopkins’ daughter had photos of Seth Hopkins allegedly raping someone.

“We were trying to do our job protecting his young daughter,” Miller said. “I hope he enjoys the fires of hell.”

Another surviving officer said her life completely changed after the shooting.

“My life was promising before the shooting,” she said. “Everything was starting to fall in place. {I] wanted to work my dream job in the FBI.”

She said that she can’t stand by a window without panicking.

“I was in shock and couldn’t think straight,” she said. “When I was shot, I didn’t even know. [Investigator Chase McDaniels] had to tell me.”

Rashad Carraway, Terrence’s son, also spoke during the hearing. He said Terrence Carraway was known as “shaft, the cool man with the confidence of a giant.”

He said Hopkins “shot my best friend like he was hunting deer in the woods.” He added that he’d speak with his father about retirement plans every week, and “to be so close is sad.”

Carraway’s widow, Allison, also spoke, calling Hopkins “evil and weak.” Carraway was there for just two minutes before he was shot in the chest.

“Hopkins claims that he was protecting his family when he ambushed law enforcement, endangering lives,” Allison Carraway said. “His murderous rampage did not end until many were wounded, with my husband and best friend being brutally murdered.”

Turner’s mother made a statement at the hearing, which was read by her niece, saying “a brave child confided in my daughter and told her about the abuse, and just as she was closing in on your house of horrors, you ambushed her. Shooting to kill her like the hopeless coward you are.”

Recently sworn-in Timmonsville Town Administrator Thomas McFadden also testified, saying “fate and destiny, nothing would have changed that day.”

“No matter what sentence you give him, he won’t be able to complete it because of his age,” McFadden said. “But I pray he lives forever.”

Carraway died at the hospital after the shooting, while Turner died on Oct. 22, nearly three weeks after the incident. They were both later inducted into the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame.

During the investigation, News13 learned that authorities had been to the Vintage Place residence dozens of times over several years before the deadly shooting.

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Caleb is a digital producer at News13. Caleb joined the team in January 2023 after graduating from Liberty University. He is from Northern Virginia. Follow Caleb on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.

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Dennis Bright is a Digital Producer at News13. He joined the team in May 2021. Dennis is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Follow Dennis on, Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.

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Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.