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Alleged shooter a disbarred lawyer, veteran of Vietnam

October 6, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. – The man who is alleged to being the shooter of police and sheriff’s officers in Florence is a disbarred lawyer and a Vietnam veteran who is on disability.

Frederick Thomas Hopkins Jr. was disbarred by an order of the South Carolina Supreme Court on June 22, 1984, with his consent. Records from the South Carolina Bar Association show Hopkins was admitted to the bar on Nov. 11, 1980. The bar association does not list what law school Hopkins attended or when he graduated. However, it is common for graduates of law school to be admitted to the bar in the fall following their graduation.

The order says that Hopkins was ordered on April 17, 1984, by the Lexington County Probate Court to pay approximately $18,000 in wrongfully collected attorney’s fees resulting from a tort and insurance claim of a Lexington County woman. The order also says that Hopkins did not fully comply with the court’s order of April 17, 1984, but he did pay $4,600 to the woman about June 4, 1984. On June 5, 1984, Hopkins was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to six months in jail or until Hopkins “purged” himself of all matters involved.

“This matter is now before the Court to upon the request of the Respondent [Hopkins] that the Court suspend the jail term to allow the Respondent time to purge himself of the contempt,” the order continues. “The Respondent, Frederick T. Hopkins Jr., has tendered his consent to disbarment in accordance with Section 27 of the Rule on Disciplinary Procedure.”

Hopkins also agreed to immediately pay by certified check the sum of $5,000 to the Lexington County Probate Court. The remaining amount due of $8,400 was to be paid within 60 days of June 22, 1984. Hopkins’ wife, Cheryl, also an attorney, agreed to be jointly and severally liable for the debt.

In 1984, Hopkins and Cheryl were newly married.

The Morning News called Cheryl’s law firm seeking comment Thursday afternoon but the call went straight to voicemail.

Hopkins was divorced from his first wife, Carol, on May 16, 1983, according to a 2000 South Carolina Supreme Court case. He and Carol were married in 1967 a few months after Hopkins graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree from New York University on June 9, 1966. Hopkins claimed Brooklyn as his hometown on Facebook. On his Facebook page, Hopkins claimed to have studied aerospace engineering at the school. He also claimed to have attended Elmont Junior-Senior High School on Long Island.

He was ordered to pay child support of $350 per month to Carol in the divorce. The court case indicates that Hopkins and Carol were married in 1967 and had two children. In 1986, Hopkins was found to be $18,693 in arrears on his child support obligations. An order garnishing $432.60 of his disability payments per month was entered by the court.

According to his Facebook page, Hopkins served with the 101 st Airborne Division in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 and says he lost more than 50 friends in the war.

Hopkins receives $1,127 a month for disability because of the injuries he received in Vietnam.

Hopkins would go on to have at least two more children with Cheryl.

In 1990, Hopkins with the counsel of Cheryl sued Carol, his first wife, seeking custody of his and Carol’s youngest son and seeking repayment of child support, three days before the youngest son’s birthday in 1990. Although the youngest son had gone to live with Hopkins in April 1990, the youngest son returned to his mother shortly after his 18 th birthday, according to the court’s opinion.

The case was decided three years after the child’s 18 th birthday in 1993. In 2000, the South Carolina Supreme Court determined that Hopkins was owed a repayment by Carol of the child support.

In 2002, Hopkins also sued a general contractor related to the building of a home in 2002 in Vintage Place, where the shootings took place Wednesday. That case was dismissed after Hopkins failed to mediate it.

In recent years, Hopkins said on his Facebook page that he was suffering from cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. A Facebook post of Hopkins indicated that his cancer had gone into remission. There were also posts on his Facebook indicating that Hopkins was a gun enthusiast, that he played trivia with his wife at a local bar and that he supported law enforcement officials.

Hopkins and his wife were also known to host foster children.

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