Suspect in deadly South Carolina police ambush identified as elderly vet

1 cop dead, 6 injured in S.C. ambush

FLORENCE, S.C. — A police officer was killed and six of his comrades were wounded when an elderly man began shooting at deputies who came to serve a search warrant Wednesday at the man's South Carolina home. The man barricaded himself in his home with children and sprayed bullets across his upscale suburban neighborhood, authorities said.  

The shooter has been identified as Fred Hopkins, according to a senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly, CBS News' David Begnaud reports.

Hopkins, 74, is a disabled Vietnam veteran who has faced several charges in recent years, including a 2014 count of disorderly conduct, The Associated Press reports. Records show he is a disbarred lawyer. 

The search warrant that was being served at his home was part of a child sexual assault investigation, and the subject of that investigation is 27-year-old Seth Hopkins, who lives there, according to the law enforcement official.

Police have been called to the home dozens of times over the years, the official said.

Wednesday's violence unfolded in the late afternoon after officials showed up with the search warrant. Five sheriff's deputies were standing in the front yard. As they waited for someone to answer the door, the gunman opened fire.

Hopkins, according to the senior law enforcement official, was perched like a sniper. He hit three of the sheriff's deputies. Four Florence, South Carolina, police officers were later shot as they responded to a call for backup.  

Hopkins has been a skilled marksman since the 1980s, the senior law enforcement official said. He has posted on social media about being a competitive marksman and taking his children shooting with him, The Associated Press reports.

The officer who was slain, 52-year-old Terrence Carraway of Darlington, had just been honored for his 30 years of service with the Florence Police Department. 

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Terrence Carraway  CBS News

"I want you to pray for the family who lost the bravest police officer I have ever known," said his chief, Allen Heidler. 

A sheriff's armored personnel carrier was brought in to recover the wounded during what became a two-hour standoff. The shooter finally released the children as he was taken into custody, authorities said.

"Officers went there unknowing the firepower the suspect had," Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said at a news conference. 

"Fire was being shot all over. The way this suspect was positioned, his view of fire was several hundred yards. So he had an advantage. The officers couldn't get to the ones who were down."

Boone credited his department's military equipment for enabling them to pull the wounded from the field of fire. 

"Thanks to our MRAP, armored personnel carrier, we made sure all the officers that were shot were protected and brought for medical attention," he said. 

The sheriff in charge of the investigation into the shooting said Thursday that his deputies have not finished processing the massive crime scene. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that until the work is finished, he can't know how many weapons were used or shots were fired.

Lott said a suspect is in custody but has not been formally charged. 

Condolences and outpourings of support rolled in. President Trump tweeted his "thoughts and prayers," saying "We are forever grateful for what our Law Enforcement Officers do 24/7/365." 

"This is simply devastating news from Florence," Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted. "The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in law enforcement is real, just like the power of prayer is real." 

Authorities said the shooting happened in Vintage Place, an upscale neighborhood in the western part of the city. Bobby Goin stood outside waiting for police to let him back to his home, where his wife and granddaughter could hear the gunshots. 

"Surprised is probably an understatement," said Goin, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. "The worst thing that goes on around here is that someone runs a stop sign and it gets posted on Facebook." 

This is the second shooting of multiple police officers in South Carolina this year. In January, a 47-year-old former banker shot four officers in York County, killing one, after his wife called 911 to report he beat her. Christian McCall pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without parole. 

The incident stunned people already dealing with record flooding from Hurricane Florence. The city of Florence, located in South Carolina's northeastern corner home to roughly 37,000, is the largest city in the region known as the Pee Dee, where flooding from Hurricane Florence devastated areas to the east and south.