Watch CBSN Live

Cops: Officer dies in South Carolina mall shooting

FOREST ACRES, S.C. -- A police officer responding to a report of a suspicious person was fatally shot at a suburban Columbia, S.C. mall on Wednesday, and police say a suspect is in custody.

The incident began when the report came in just before 8 a.m., Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy told reporters. Two officers responded and attempted to talk to the man, who fled on foot and ran through parts of Richland Mall, including the Barnes and Noble bookstore, officials said.

A booking photograph from August of 2015 of Jarvis Hall. Lexington County Sheriff's Dept

Forest Acres Officer Greg Alia confronted the person and there was a struggle, Sealy said. Police say the suspect, identified as 34-year-old Jarvis Hall, then pulled out a gun and shot Alia, reports CBS affiliate WLTX.

Alia was taken to a hospital and later died, officials said. No other injuries were reported.

Sealy said the suspect is in custody and is being questioned. Sealy described Hall as being armed with a handgun and a knife at the mall. Police did not detail any charges and did not take questions at their news conference.

Sealy said Alia was 32 years old and a seven-year veteran of the department. He and his wife, Kassy, recently had a baby, Sealy said.

Alia was training a new police officer when the shooting took place, WLTX reported.

"We hope everybody prays for Greg's family," Sealy said. "They will need strength."

Hours after the shooting, most of the mall - anchored by a department store, the bookstore and a theater complex - was closed. Traffic flowed and the parking garage was open, but the main entrance was closed by yellow crime scene tape. Customers pulled in and out of a gas station on the corner. A nearby high school was locked down briefly.

Forest Acres is a residential town virtually surrounded by Columbia. Sealy described it as "a small community, a small police department, but one big family."

View CBS News In