Gunman loose in S.C.; 10 schools locked down

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GREENVILLE, S.C. - A gunman fired on a police officer checking on a suspicious license plate Friday, causing 10 schools nearby to go on lockdown, though some began reopening their doors to some visitors after a couple of hours.

The shooting happened around 10 a.m. at an apartment complex, police spokeswoman Alia Urps said. The officer returned fire and was not hit. It's unknown if the suspect was hit. She was unsure how many shots were fired.

The suspect was able to run into nearby woods and hasn't been seen since. Several dozen officers who happened to be in a training session nearby rushed to help search, authorities said.

"We're asking everyone in the area to stay inside until we determine the area is safe," Urps said.

She said an officer checking on license plates in a hotel parking lot discovered that one was listed for a different vehicle. When she went inside the hotel to inquire about the driver, the suspect got in the vehicle and fled. The officer got back in her car and tried to pull the suspect over, but he sped up, and she abandoned pursuit, Urps said.

"We do not pursue for minor traffic violations," she said.

Another officer found the vehicle in an apartment parking lot, and as she approached, the suspect shot at her, she said.

Officers with the Greenville County Sheriff's office, the State Law Enforcement Division and highway patrol are also participating in the search, Urps said.

Four public schools, three private schools, two colleges and a special education center were placed on lockdown.

Schools were locked down in several different directions, because the suspect got away from officers and they weren't sure where he went.

"This is not around the corner from a school. I don't want to give you that impression. This is several miles from any of our schools," Oby Lyles, spokesman for Greenville County school district, told The Associated Press. "Everybody's fine."

Officials said it was a precaution, and none of the students or teachers appeared to be in danger. Schools began shifting to a partial lockdown after about two hours. That means students and employees must stay inside, but some visitors known to staff can enter through the front office.

The shooting happened in a fairly densely populated area just south of Interstate 85.