‘He was the epitome of a community police officer’ says Florence Police Chief about slain officer

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Florence Police Department suffered its first line of duty death in nearly 30 years on Wednesday, as an officer was killed multiple others wounded in an ambush attack.

The department said officer Terrence Carraway, 52, was a few weeks away from celebrating 31 years with the department. He died Wednesday evening after officials said he was shot by Fred Hopkins, 74, of Florence.

According to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, three deputies arrived at a home on Ashton Drive in the Vintage Place subdivision of Florence to issue a warrant for an unnamed person who also lived in the home. The warrant, according to the sheriff’s office, was for sexual assault of a minor that also lived in the home.

Upon arriving at the residence, authorities say the three deputies were met with gunfire from Hopkins. They requested backup from the city as part of a mutual aid agreement between the departments. Four city police officers arrived and all four were shot by Hopkins, the department said.

“I do not believe our officers had any idea of the firepower they were going to encounter when they arrived at the house,” Police Chief Allen Heidler said.

After shooting and injuring a total of seven law enforcement officers, authorities said Hopkins then barricaded himself inside the house with children present. The standoff lasted around two hours before he surrendered to deputies. The department said Hopkins suffered a head injury during the ordeal and was admitted to the hospital.

Deputies said a 27-year-old man inside the home was also shot.

Heidler said as of Thursday, two of his officers had been treated and released from the hospital and one remains in serious but stable condition. There was no update as to the conditions of the three deputies shot.

Carraway’s death marks the department’s first line of duty death since 1989 and marks the fourth law enforcement officer to be killed in South Carolina this year. The only other officer killed by gunfire was in York County.

“We as a city have spent the last 24 hours only half believing the stark reality of what has occurred,” Mayor Stephen Wukela said.

Carraway is described as a “gentle giant” who loved the city of Florence and protecting its people.

“He was the epitome of a community police officer,” Heidler said. “He loved this community, he gave it his all. With 30 years he didn’t have to do this job but this was his life and this is what he wanted to do…serving Florence was his passion.”

Support services from departments around the state as well as SCLEAP are being made available to members of the departments.

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