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Sheriff: We’re overwhelmed by community’s support

October 7, 2018
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Frederick Hopkins Jr.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Two deputies who were wounded in a standoff Wednesday remain in critical condition and a third is in stable condition, according to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support from this community for our wonderful officers and our agencies,” Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said in a statement released Friday night, two days after seven officers were shot, one fatally.

“We continue to ask for your prayers for healing for our deputies and their families, our agency, the Florence Police Department and our community which have been so deeply affected by this tragedy.

“We also wish to express our sincere appreciation to the medical staff and administrations of McLeod Health and Carolinas Hospital System whose efforts on behalf of our wounded and their families has been nothing less than heroic. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

One Florence police officer, Sgt. Scott Williamson, also remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

Florence police Sgt. Terrence Carraway was killed in the incident in an upscale west Florence neighborhood.

Besides Williamson, who works with the community action team, the wounded officers are:

Cpl. Brian Hart – Florence Police Department (traffic safety unit).Lance Cpl. Travis Scott – Florence Police Department (community action team).Deputy Arie Davis – Florence County Sheriff’s Office.Investigator Sarah Miller – Florence County Sheriff’s Office.Investigator Farrrah Turner – Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

Carraway, wounded at the scene, died of his wounds later at a Florence area hospital. His funeral is set for noon Monday at the Florence Center.

Two men at the center of the incident are being held without bond after they were formally arrested and arraigned Friday.

Frederick Hopkins, 74, was charged with murder and six counts of attempted murder Friday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. Hopkins had been in the hospital since he was taken into custody after the Wednesday afternoon shooting, but he was taken to jail Friday, Lott said.

Florence County investigators called Hopkins’ home and arranged to speak to his 28-year-old son, Seth Hopkins, about a sex assault investigation Wednesday afternoon, Lott said, adding that they had a search warrant.

The younger Hopkins is charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor, second degree, statutory, according to the Florence County Detention Center’s website.

Both Hopkins list 932 Ashton Drive, a home in Vintage Place, as their residence. The residence is situated at the far side of a cul-de-sac and has a commanding view of all of the roads that lead to it. Portions of the crime scene were three blocks from the residence.

A special FBI team that investigated the slayings of five police officers in Dallas in 2016 and the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas last year is helping local authorities gather evidence.

A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Frederick Hopkins had set an ambush for investigators coming to question his adult son about a child sexual assault, Lott said.

Frederick Hopkins is a decorated Vietnam veteran and a disbarred attorney. His U.S. Army records obtained by The Associated Press show he was awarded a marksman badge with pistol bar and a sharpshooter with rifle bar decoration during 11 years of service, starting in 1966.

Hopkins also was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism defending a firebase under attack by North Vietnamese forces on May 6, 1970.

As a U.S. Army captain, Hopkins carried medical supplies across an open area, “braving shrapnel from exploding mortar rounds,” according to the letter explaining the award. He was critically wounded when a mortar round exploded near him, the letter said.

Hopkins earned his law license after leaving the military but was disbarred a few years later for mishandling money. Several of his Facebook posts in recent years were about guns, including celebrating his 70th birthday by repeatedly firing his M14 rifle “set up exactly like the one I used in Vietnam.”

Judge Tommy Mourounas denied bail for Frederick T. Hopkins, who needed help getting in and out of the courtroom and appeared dazed and tired, according to a WBTW-TV report.

Mourounas asked Hopkins “You understand where you’re at right now?”

Hopkins responded, “No, where am I?”

The judge replied, “You’re at bond hearing court.”

The court delayed a decision whether to appoint Hopkins a lawyer until his financial status can be verified.

The judge also denied bail for Seth Hopkins, who was not assigned a public defender.

Frederick Hopkins’ wife, Cheryl Turner Hopkins, is an attorney and attended a hearing Friday that Solicitor Ed Clements said concerned emergency custody for children in the home. The solicitor did not provide details on the hearing, and the Family Court judge sealed the case.

Cheryl Turner Hopkins told a WPDE-TV reporter outside the courtroom that she is sorry for the officers’ families and asked for prayers.

The shooting started as three Florence County Sheriff’s deputies who were en route to the house to serve the search warrant were shot as they got out of their car.

Four Florence Police Officers who responded to calls for mutual aid also were shot, one while still in a cruiser.

Florence County Sheriff’s Office’s MRAP, an armored vehicle, responded from Effingham and provided cover that allowed all officers to be rescued and transported for treatment at Florence area hospitals.

In addition to the seven law enforcement officers, five civilians were transported to two local trauma centers, Florence County EMS said in a news release.

Of the seven police officers transported, five were transported to McLeod Medical Center and two were transported to Carolinas Hospital Systems.

Of the five civilians, four were transported to Carolinas Hospital Systems and one to McLeod Medical Center.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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