MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County authorities released new information on a deputy-involved shooting that brought a chase to an end Thursday morning along I-95 in Orangeburg County.
Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said 34-year-old Daniel Brooks Ward of Summerville, was the suspect involved in an alleged kidnapping.
Ward faces charges including four counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, failure to stop for a blue light, violating an order of protection and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Ward was being treated at Palmetto-Richland Hospital in Columbia and Lewis said deputies are there standing by.
"I'll tell you that we have had several encounters with Mr. Ward, and he does have a lengthy criminal history," Lewis said. "He has been charged with kidnapping before and we're trying to determine what the outcome of that situation was."
Lewis said the situation began when Ward's wife was sitting in a car on the phone with a prosecutor talking about Ward's failure to show up for a bond revocation hearing Thursday morning. At some point while she was on the phone, the sheriff says Ward, who may have been hiding in the trunk, got inside her car, pulled a gun, got into the driver's seat and drove off with her inside. Lewis said the solicitor called 911.
The car Ward's wife was in, he said, was spotted in the Lebanon area of Berkeley County, leading authorities to pursue the vehicle.
"Upon following the vehicle and waiting for backup units, deputies attempted a traffic stop," BCSO officials said."The suspect, who is known to the deputies as having made threats to harm deputies in the past, chose to flee rather than stop. Knowing that the victim was in the vehicle and was in harm's way, deputies continued to attempt to stop the vehicle."
The chase spanned three counties, from Berkeley, into Orangeburg and then into Clarendon Counties before returning to Orangeburg County where the chase ended in a crash near Exit 98 on I-95.
At some point during the pursuit, Lewis said Ward told his wife he was going to kill himself or commit "suicide by cop."
Authorities say when Ward's vehicle stopped, Ward shot at the responding deputies.
"Three deputies from the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office and one deputy from the Clarendon County Sheriff's Office returned fire," BCSO officials said.
Lewis said Ward opened fire at deputies who then returned fire, hitting him. It is not clear how many shots were fired or how many times Ward was hit.
"Keep in mind the main focus was to try to rescue the kidnap victim, get her out of that situation, and that's what they were trying to do," Lewis said. "And he started shooting at them."
Three of the four deputies are from Berkeley County and the fourth is from Clarendon County, Lewis said. BCSO officials say their deputies involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave as is standard procedure with incidents of this nature.
Lewis said he is thankful that neither the victim of a kidnapping or the deputies who responded were injured.
"That's really remarkable, y'all, in a chase lasting almost an hour through multiple jurisdictions and having the amount of traffic some of you saw involved," Lewis said.
The fact that the victim was on the phone and others were immediately alerted to her situation makes one think someone was looking out for the victim, Lewis said.
"That she was able to do that, that she was on the phone with somebody when it occurred, because it could have ended differently," Lewis said. "I don't understand how or why he allowed her to continue on the phone, I don't know all that transpired in the vehicle, won't know for some time, but we're thankful that she was able to call us and get that information to us quickly, and that we had deputies in the area that were able to respond."
The crash and shootout briefly closed both directions of I-95, with the northbound lanes reopening a short time later.
The southbound lanes remained closed while investigators processed the scene, leading to the state Highway Patrol detouring motorists along Highway 15. Shortly before 1 p.m., southbound lanes of I-95 near Exit 98 were reopened to traffic.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting incident, which is standard procedure when a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting. Lewis said his agency is working to assist SLED with their investigation.
In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, spokesman Thom Berry said interviews are being conducted with responding officers and others, and said there is no body cam video of the incident. Dash cam video is being analyzed to determine whether any of the footage shows the shooting.
"Information gathered in the SLED investigation will be summarized in a case file report to be submitted to prosecutors in the First Circuit Solicitor's Office," Berry said in a statement.
The incident was the 13th officer-involved shooting in the state in 2016, the second of the year involving an Berkeley County deputy, and the first involving a Clarendon County deputy.
In 2015, there were 48 officer-involved shootings in the state; of those, three involved Berkeley County deputies and none involved a Clarendon County deputy.