Disbarred lawyer in custody in hospital after 7 officers shot, 1 fatally, in South Carolina

A 74-year-old former lawyer is under arrest in hospital after seven police officers were shot in South Carolina, leaving one dead, in a standoff so dangerous that police had to use a bulletproof vehicle to rescue the wounded.

Man, 74, unable to talk with head injury after standoff in county recently hit by Hurricane Florence

Seven law enforcement officers were shot, one fatally, in Florence, S.C., on Wednesday. (Sean Rayford/The Associated Press)

A 74-year-old former lawyer is under arrest in hospital after seven police officers were shot in South Carolina, leaving one dead, in a standoff so dangerous that police had to use a bulletproof vehicle to rescue the wounded.

The suspect also held children hostage for two hours in his Florence home Wednesday afternoon, but they were released safely as he was taken into custody, said Maj. Mike Nunn of the Florence County Sheriff's office.

The officers were trying to serve a warrant when a gunman opened fire. (Sean Rayford/The Associated Press)

Early Thursday, authorities identified the alleged gunman as Frederick Hopkins, 74. South Carolina Bar records show Hopkins was a lawyer who was disbarred.

Hopkins was hospitalized with a head injury and unable to speak with officers, according to a WIS-TV report citing Glenn Kirby, a chief deputy with Florence County.

According to public court records, Hopkins had incurred criminal charges within the last four years that included disorderly conduct as well as not restraining one's animals.

Kirby told the television station that officers were trying to serve a warrant involving an accusation that a 27-year-old person at the home sexually assaulted a foster child there.

It was a stunning shooting in an area already reeling from record flooding from Hurricane Florence. The sheriff and police chief both cried as they spoke to reporters just hours after the shooting.

"I want you to pray for the family who lost the bravest police officer I have ever known," Florence police Chief Allen Heidler said of Terrence Carraway.

City of Florence spokesperson John Wukela confirmed Carraway's death to The Associated Press late Wednesday. Carraway, 52, of Darlington, had recently celebrated 30 years as a police officer. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. An autopsy will be performed at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, according to the coroner's office.

Deputies had been serving warrant

Three Florence County deputies were shot from inside a home as they came to serve a warrant around 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, Nunn said.

Four Florence city police officers were then shot, one fatally, as officers from around the area swarmed in to help, Heidler said.

A police officer directs traffic near the scene of the shooting. (Sean Rayford/The Associated Press)

Both Heidler and Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone spoke to reporters about two hours after the standoff ended.

'Simply devastating news'

Condolences and outpourings of support rolled in at news of the shooting.

"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."

Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone, left, police Chief Allen Heidler and county Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby speak to media after the shooting. (Jeffrey Collins/The Associated Press)

Thom Berry, spokesperson for the State Law Enforcement Division, said the agency had sent crime scene technicians to assist officials in Florence, but had not been requested to help with any investigation.

Boone said investigators from Richland County would help investigate the shooting. He did not say why he wasn't using state police like most law enforcement agencies do in officer shootings in South Carolina.

2nd shooting of multiple police officers

Authorities said the shootings happened in Vintage Place, an upscale neighbourhood in the western part of the city.

Bobby Goin stood outside waiting for police to let him go back to his home.

"Surprised is probably an understatement," Goin said of the shooting in the neighbourhood where he has lived 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.

Florence, a city in South Carolina's northeastern corner that is home to roughly 37,000, sits at the convergence of interstates 95 and 20. It's the largest city in the region known as the Pee Dee, where flooding from Hurricane Florence devastated areas to the east and south.