YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - A South Carolina Highway Patrol officer shot following a chase in York County Sunday night has been released from the hospital.
Initial reports indicate that 27-year-old SCHP Trooper Paul Wise was shot off of India Hook Road after initially trying to stop the driver of a 2009 BMW for a seat belt violation.
The incident started near Mt. Gallant Road and Lexie Lane around 7:45 p.m. The suspect, later identified as Willie Bernard Wright, 27, of Gaffney, S.C., fled the scene and a short pursuit began.
Wright struck the gate at Camp Canaan Campground before exiting the car. Leroy Smith, the Director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, stated that the suspect then started to open fire on Wise, striking him. Wise was wearing body armor at the time and officials stated that they believed this saved his life.
County records show Wright just got out of prison in January of this year after serving six years for attempted murder. He’s also been convicted for attempted armed robbery, criminal conspiracy, illegally carrying a gun and drug possession.
“I am so thankful that his issued body armor stopped the round, saving his life,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “As I said during last night’s news briefing, law enforcement is a calling, and this is why we refer to these brave men and women—like Trooper Wise—as heroes. Our law enforcement works day and night to ensure the safety and security of us all.”
The trooper was taken to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was treated and released by Monday morning.
During the incident, the suspect also sustained a gunshot wound after Wise fired back and was able to apprehend him at that time, officials say. Wright remains hospitalized. He was last listed in stable condition..
Once the suspect is released from the hospital, SCHP will charge him separately with failure to stop for a blue light and siren, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
“When Wise returns to work, he will be on administrative duties, per dept. protocol,” the South Carolina Department of Public Safety says.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are working to investigate the incident.
According to a release, the shooting was the 24th officer-involved shooting in South Carolina in 2019 and the first involving a state trooper. Officials say in 2018 there were 43 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina and none involving a trooper.
Trooper Wise, who also works as a firefighter with the Lesslie Fire Department, will be placed on administrative duties once he returns to work, as per department protocol. He has been with the SC Highway Patrol since September 2016.
”We had a conversation this morning because I knew that I was getting calls and I didn’t want to talk to anybody else until after I talked to him. Everything’s good. Matter of fact, he’s been by to speak to some of the guys here and then he left. Other than that, he’s doing real well,” said Tommy White, Lesslie’s Fire Chief.
Wright was placed in the Mecklenburg County jail. He has a court hearing Tuesday afternoon.