SC: Officers Shot During Search; One Dead, Six Others injured

Liz Carey

Florence, SC (WorkersCompensation.com) – Officers attempting to serve a search warrant were shot at by a former SC attorney on Wednesday, killing one officer and injuring six others.

Around 4 p.m., Oct. 3, officers from the Florence, SC Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve the search warrant to a residence in Vintage Place, where a 27-year-old suspect at the home was under suspicion of sexually assaulting a foster child there.

Major Mike Nunn, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said sheriff’s deputies tried to serve the warrant, but were shot at by someone inside the house. Three officers were injured. Other officers, including those from the Florence (city) Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, responded to the scene. Four other officers were shot in the resulting melee.

Officer Terrence Carraway, a 30-year veteran of the Florence Police Department, was killed in the shoot-out.

Police dispatch recordings indicated that officers warned off medical personnel during the shooting.

“Patient is behind the residence. Shots are still being fired,” an unidentified officer said on the dispatch recording. “The situation is not getting any better. Please, stay out of Vintage Place until we call for you. Just stay out of Vintage Place altogether.”

The suspect kept police officers in a stand-off for more than two hours, officials said, with children held hostage inside the residence. Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler said in a Wednesday night press conference that getting to the injured officers took about 30 minutes.

Nunn said emergency personnel were finally able to get to the injured through the use of a bullet-resistant vehicle.

“We know that at times, this is a dangerous job,” Nunn said during the press conference. “But our deputies readily accept that challenge. As our wounded are being treated, we ask for your prayers for them and their families and that you respect their privacy at this time.”

Heidler said on Thursday that two of the officers have been released from the hospital.

According to the Associated Press, five civilians were also wounded in the stand-off, although it was unclear if they were residents or working in an official capacity as emergency personnel.

Gary Cannon, executive director for the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, told WorkersCompensation.com that officers injured or killed while they are determined to have been on the job are covered for their injuries by workers’ compensation, according to state law.

It is not clear, however, if officers involved in the stand-off will be covered for any PTSD that may arise later as a result of the incident.

“There have been cases where that has been covered, and I think several cases have been sent up to the SC Supreme Court,” Cannon said. There are no laws in SC that requires workers’ compensation to cover PTSD in first responders, he said.

The suspect was identified as 74-year-old Frederick Hopkins, a disabled Vietnam veteran and former attorney who was disbarred. Hopkins is divorced, and is currently married to South Carolina divorce attorney Cheryl Turner Hopkins. His social media pages describe his life, with 10 children ranging in ages from 3 to 40, as a happy one. He called his wife of 25 years, his “true soulmate.”

Hopkins has had previous run-ins with the police, according to the Associated Press. In 1984, he was jailed for failing to pay back $18,000 in attorney fees alleged to have been wrongly collected from a client. Hopkins opted to pay back the money and forfeit his license as a result. And in 2014, deputies charged him with disorderly conduct.

Calls to the law offices of Cheryl Turner Hopkins went to a voicemail system.

Hopkins was arrested at the scene after apparently falling on his head during the shoot-out. The children who were being held hostage were released as Hopkins was taken into custody. No further indications were given as to their whereabouts or condition.

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