A man shot seven police officers in South Carolina, killing one, in a standoff so dangerous that police had to use a bullet-proof vehicle to rescue the wounded, authorities said.
The man also held children hostage for two hours in his Florence home Wednesday afternoon, but they were released safely as the suspect was taken into custody, Florence County Sheriff’s Maj. Mike Nunn said.
It was a stunning shooting in an area already reeling from record flooding from Hurricane Florence. The sheriff and police chief both cried as they spoke to reporters just hours after the shooting.
“I want you to pray for the family who lost the bravest police officer I have ever known,” Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler said of Terrence Carraway. City of Florence spokesman John Wukela confirmed Carraway’s death to The Associated Press late Wednesday. Carraway, 52, of Darlington, had recently celebrated 30 years as a police officer. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. An autopsy will be performed at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, according to the coroner’s office.
The man shot three Florence County deputies from inside a home as they came to serve a warrant around 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nunn said.
The suspect then shot four Florence city police officers, one fatally, as officers from all around the area swarmed in to help, Heidler said.
Officials refused to say why they were serving a warrant. They also did not name him or the wounded officers, nor did they give their conditions.
Both Heidler and Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone had tears in their eyes as they spoke to reporters about two hours after the standoff ended.
Condolences and outpourings of support rolled in at news of the shooting.
“This is simply devastating news from Florence,” Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted. “The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer is real.”
Thom Berry, spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division, said the agency had sent crime scene technicians to assist officials in Florence but at this time had not been requested to help with any investigation.
Boone said investigators from Richland County would help investigate the shooting. He did not say why he wasn’t using state police like most law enforcement agencies do in officer shootings in South Carolina.
Authorities said the shootings happened in Vintage Place, an upscale neighborhood in the western part of the city.
Bobby Goin stood outside waiting for police to let him back to his home where his wife and granddaughter heard gunshots from the home back further in the neighborhood.
“Surprised is probably an understatement,” Goin said of the shooting in the neighborhood where he has lived for 20 years. “The worst thing that goes on around here is that someone runs a stop sign and it gets posted on Facebook.”
This is the second shooting of multiple police officers in South Carolina this year. In January, a 47-year-old former banker shot four officers in York County, killing one, after his wife called 911 to report he beat her. Christian McCall pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without parole.
Florence, a city in South Carolina’s northeastern corner home to roughly 37,000, sits at the convergence of Interstates 95 and 20. It’s the largest city in the region known as the Pee Dee, where flooding from Hurricane Florence devastated areas to the east and south.