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One officer killed, seven others wounded in Vintage Place shooting

October 4, 2018

City of Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler is hugged by Octavia Williams-Blake after a news conference Wednesday evening on the grounds of McLeod Regional Medical Center.

FLORENCE, S.C. — An officer described by his chief as “the bravest police officer I have ever known” was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon in a west Florence subdivision responding to help Florence County sheriff’s deputies who were also shot while serving a search warrant.

Six other law enforcement officers — three from the Florence Police Department and three from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office — were wounded. The suspected gunman is in custody.

A 27-year-old resident of the home was also wounded in the incident, Florence County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby said.

Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken identified the officer as Terrence Carraway, 52, of Darlington.

During an emotional Wednesday night news conference outside the emergency room at McLeod Regional Medical Center, Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler announced that four city officers had been shot, one fatally, while responding to aid Florence County sheriff’s deputies who had come under fire while serving a search warrant at a residence on Vintage Place.

“Today will mark a very horrific day for the Florence Police Department,” Heidler said. “Today we lost a good friend of mine, an officer I’ve known for 30 years.

“I ask for, at this particular time, prayers of every human being who knows the Lord Jesus Christ to pray for these officers. They were responding to the scene of an incident where they knew their brothers and sisters from the sheriff’s office were in need — as we all do and they do for us.”

Maj. Mike Nunn of the sheriff’s office said the shooting began at approximately 4 p.m. after “investigators with Florence County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve a search warrant on a residence in Vintage Place Subdivision in Florence County. Suspect inside the residence opened fire on the investigator. Three of our deputies were shot.

“The suspect continued to fire on other officers who responded to the scene to render aid to the wounded. Officers from the Florence City Police Department responded to assist, and several of their officers were shot as well.”

“The suspect remained barricaded in the residence with children. Suspect is now in custody.”

These officers went there unknowing the firepower this suspect had, Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said.

“They thought it was a random search,” Boone said.

“When the arrived gunfire started, several officers were hit. I want to thank Florence Police Department; they were minutes away and assisted us.

“Fire was being shot all over. The way the suspect was positioned, his view of fire was several hundred yards. He had an advantage. Officers couldn’t get to the ones that were down.”

The agency used its MRAP — which is armored — to go in and rescue the wounded law enforcement officers and evacuate them to where they could be transported for medical treatment.

“Those who live in Vintage Place bear with us,” Boone said. “We know it’s chaotic, and what’s going on they don’t understand. This area is safe; the suspect is in custody. We’ll probably go through the night working those crime scenes as well.”

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela also spoke at the news conference.

“We can be reassured somewhat in the knowledge that the officer who passed and those who were wounded were so doing what they loved, which is protecting this community and protecting one another,” Wukela said. “They came to the aid of one another and had great loss at that effort.”

Heidler said he had heard from many in the law enforcement community and appreciates the support offered to his agency.

“We will take care of our family,” he said. “This is my family. These officers are my family. We will take care of them and take care of their loved ones.”

The Richland County Sheriff’s Office has been called in to conduct the investigation into the shooting, and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has sent counselors for the officers involved in it, Boone said.

The Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation has also responded, the sheriff said.

“We know at times this is a dangerous job, and our deputies readily and bravely accept that challenge,” Nunn said. “We ask for your prayers for the wounded and the families at this time.”

Boone also called for prayers.

“Please put the families of these officers in your prayer,” he said. “Please lift them up. The victims in this case need all the help and support we can get them. We’re going to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Florence County Council Chairman Kent Caudle said he was shocked and saddened by what happened on Wednesday.

Caudle said he never considered something like Wednesday’s events happening in Florence.

The county council and city council are here to assist the families affected in any way they could, Caudle said.

State Rep. Jay Jordan said he hoped the community would come together after the events of Wednesday.

“Our officers put their lives on the line every day,” Boone said. “You never know when you leave your home if you’ll ever return home. A lot of the officers don’t get the respect their deserve. These situations hit home. We have several that were injured. Several officers that were shot. It’s a terrible situation.”

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