They went in to serve a warrant and were met with a barrage of bullets
Officer Terrence Carraway rushed to respond when a gunman opened fire from a home in Florence County, South Carolina. As the barrage of bullets kept coming, he and his colleagues had to be rescued.
Carraway was among seven law enforcement officers shot Wednesday evening during a two-hour standoff that began when deputies attempted to execute a search warrant.
On cell phone video recorded near the shooting, scores of gunshots can be heard. For about 15 seconds, the firing appears to be constant and intense.
The witness who took the video saw two officers get shot in front of a driveway at a home an estimated 300 yards away from where the alleged gunman was barricaded, the witness told CNN on Thursday.
Carraway, a 30-year veteran of the Florence Police Department, was minutes away when he got the call to help fellow officers. He died on his way to the hospital, city of Florence spokesman John Wukela said.
Fighting back tears, Florence police Chief Allen Heidler called Carraway a good friend and “the bravest police officer” he’s ever known.
An autopsy will be performed at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, CNN affiliate WBTW reported.
One city police officer still was hospitalized in serious condition Thursday afternoon, and two others had been treated and released, city officials said. The conditions of the three sheriff’s deputies who were wounded were not immediately known.
An eighth person, a 20-year-old man inside the house, was shot during the standoff, Florence County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby told WBTW. His condition is also unknown.
Suspect is disbarred attorney
The man suspected of shooting the officers was arrested Wednesday evening, officials said. The suspect is Fred Hopkins, 74, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The suspect surrendered after talking to a negotiator and was taken to the hospital for treatment, Kirby told WBTW.
The suspect has not been formally charged, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, whose office is leading the investigation, said Thursday.
Online property records list Hopkins as one of the owners of the house where the shootings happened.
Hopkins was disbarred as an attorney in 1984, four years after he got his law license, online records show. He was ordered to pay $18,000 to a court in Lexington County, an amount said to be equal to the sum of “wrongfully collected” attorney fees.
Hopkins was charged in 2014 with disorderly conduct, online court records show. It is his only known prior arrest.
Hopkins and his wife have nine adopted children, a woman who said she was a longtime friend of the Hopkins family told The State newspaper.
“I loved those kids like they were our own,” Judy Gibson told the Columbia, South Carolina, newspaper. “Why this tragedy happened? I cannot answer that. I am still in shock.”
The suspect had been married previously and had two sons before moving to Florence, the newspaper reported.
It’s unclear whether authorities have determined why he opened fire. CNN affiliate WMBF reported, citing Kirby, that deputies were executing a search warrant linked to allegations of sexual assault of a minor who lives in the home but that the gunman was not a suspect in that case.
However, Kirby on Friday denied to CNN that he had given the reason for the search warrant. CNN has not independently confirmed why the search warrant had been issued or what it alleged.
An armored vehicle had to shield officers
The gunman initially shot at the Florence County deputies and kept shooting when more law enforcement officers arrived, officials said.
“These officers went there unknowing the firepower this suspect had,” Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said.
The seven officers who were wounded could not get away, he said.
“He had an advantage, and the officers couldn’t get to the ones that were down,” Boone said.
As the suspect barricaded himself in the home with children, authorities used a mine-resistant ambush protected, or MRAP, vehicle — something usually associated with war zones — to get all the wounded officers to safety, Boone said.
Video footage after the shooting shows a bloody police vest and blood spatter on the ground as yellow tape goes up around the scene.
‘He was the proverbial gentle giant’
City officials lauded Carraway on Thursday as man who had a steady temperament and a deep commitment to the community.
Carraway had started a mentoring program for disadvantaged youths called Camp FEVER, said Heidler, the police chief.
“He had a passion for kids, … to see kids in impoverished areas have the opportunity to do the things they might not have the opportunity” to do, Heidler said. “He was a giant of a man, but he was the proverbial gentle giant, and I loved him.”
Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said Carraway had “the ability to bring the sense of order and peacefulness to the most difficult of situations.”
“That made him a great cop. That made him a great person,” the mayor said.
At a vigil Thursday evening at the First Baptist Church of Florence, Carraway’s pastor said he wore two badges.
“He had another badge. It was a badge of love,” Rev. Cecil Bromell told the packed church. “He demonstrated love in the purest form.”
A public viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday at the Florence Center, and a memorial will follow at noon, he said.
‘Selfless acts of bravery’
President Donald Trump and South Carolina lawmakers also offered prayers for the victims.
“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,” Trump tweeted Wednesday night.
“This is simply devastating news from Florence,” Gov. Henry McMaster said on social media. “The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer is real.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect new reporting about the search warrant.