Policeman killed, six hurt as US gunman takes children hostage

The suspect held children in a home and fired on deputies in a two-hour standoff

South Carolina state troopers gather on Hoffmeyer Road near the Vintage Place neighborhood where several police officers were shot Photograph: Sean Rayford/AP

South Carolina state troopers gather on Hoffmeyer Road near the Vintage Place neighborhood where several police officers were shot Photograph: Sean Rayford/AP

 

Seven South Carolina police officers have been shot, one fatally, in a confrontation with a suspect who held children hostage in a home and fired on deputies, officials said.

The suspect was taken into custody after a two-hour standoff.

Spokesman John Wukela in the city of Florence, where the deadly encounter occurred, gave an updated total on Wednesday evening of officers felled by gunfire, speaking at an emotional news conference.

Major Mike Nunn, with the Florence County Sheriff’s Department, said officers were serving a warrant when the suspect began shooting, wounding three deputies.

The deputies had to be removed using a bulletproof vehicle.

Then, four Florence police officers were shot while trying to respond to the initial gunfire, said Allen Heidler, the Florence police chief.

Pronounced dead

Mr Wukela identified the deceased officer to The Associated Press as Terrence Carraway of Darlington.

Mr Carraway, 52, had just celebrated 30 years as a police officer in the city, Mr Wukela said.

He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. An autopsy will be performed at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, according to the coronor’s office.

“I want you to pray for the family who lost the bravest police officer I have ever known,” Mr Heidler said, visibly overcome by emotion at the news conference.

Mr Nunn said the suspect held off police for two hours — holding children hostage in his home — before eventually being taken into custody.

He would not release the suspect’s name or condition and other details were not immediately disclosed.

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

“This is simply devastating news from Florence,” Governor Henry McMaster tweeted. “The selfless acts of bravery from the men and women in police is real, just like the power of prayer is real.”

US president Donald Trump said his thoughts were with the sheriff’s office and police department.

He said on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the Florence Police Department tonight, in South Carolina. We are forever grateful for what our police Officers do 24/7/365.”

Thom Berry, spokesman for the State police Division, said the agency had sent crime scene technicians to assist officials in Florence but at this time had not been requested to help with any investigation.

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