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South Carolina shooting suspect posted about loving "the smell of gunpowder" on Facebook

S.C. shooting suspect bragged on social media
S.C. shooting suspect bragged on social media... 02:45

FLORENCE, S.C. — A 74-year-old man accused of shooting seven South Carolina law enforcement officers, killing one, is a Vietnam veteran and disbarred attorney who used his marksmanship to hold officers back as their comrades lay bleeding on the ground, authorities said.

Records and social media posts unearthed Thursday showed that Frederick Hopkins became serious about amateur target-shooting around the time he lost his law license in the 1980s for mishandling money.

"I just love the smell of gunpowder in the mornin's," he once posted on Facebook.

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Frederick Hopkins CBS News

In recent years, Hopkins had faced several minor criminal charges, including disorderly conduct in 2014.

Hopkins is accused of opening fire Wednesday from his home in an affluent South Carolina neighborhood after deputies tried to carry out a search warrant. He also allegedly held children hostage inside, authorities said.

Three female Florence County deputies and four Florence city police officers were wounded. Two were released Thursday from the hospital. An armored vehicle was needed to rescue the injured.

Sgt. Terrence Carraway, just shy of 31 years on the Florence Police Department, died of his wounds Wednesday night. He was well known in the community and coached in the Police Youth Athletic League. On Thursday his body was returned to Florence after undergoing an autopsy in Charleston.

"He had the ability to bring a sense of order and temperament to the most difficult situations," Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said. "That's what made him a great human being."

It was not clear exactly how the confrontation ended. Authorities would say only that the gunman released the children as he was taken into custody, authorities said.

Hopkins was hospitalized with a head injury and unable to speak with officers, Columbia, South Carolina, television station WIS reported Thursday.   

In 2016, Hopkins posted photos on Facebook of guns set up for target practice, bragging that he was the state's 2011 "3-Gun Silhouette Champion." In a 2014 post, he said he celebrated his 70th birthday at a range by repeatedly firing his M14 rifle, which he "set up exactly like the one I used in Vietnam."

His competitive shooting would have begun around the time he lost his law license over $18,000 in wrongfully collected attorney fees. A court order shows that the state Supreme Court in 1984 allowed Hopkins to pay back the debt over time and surrender his license rather than complete a six-month jail term.

Court documents also show that he was injured in Vietnam and received disability payments. The filing does not elaborate on the injury.

Byron Black, who lives near the subdivision where the shooting happened, said he knew both the slain officer and the children of the suspect and described the Hopkins family as "good people."

"You never know how stuff will happen," he said.

He said Carraway, his youth football coach in the late 1990s, was a down-to-earth community leader with whom young people felt comfortable discussing their problems.

"If you got in trouble, he would try his best to get you out of it or tell you the steps you need to take to get out of it," he said, later adding: "He was one of the good cops."

More than a dozen relatives and friends of Carraway sat in his Darlington home Thursday afternoon, quietly sitting on couches as news coverage of the shooting played on a TV.

They respectfully declined to talk to a reporter.

So many people came to Carraway's rural house across from a soybean field that they were parking in an empty lot next door. Mourners also held a candlelight vigil Thursday night for Carraway inside a Florence church.

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