Authorities pledge to prosecute gunman who fired shots at Charleston fire station
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston city leaders are holding a news conference Thursday afternoon about someone firing shots overnight at the city’s new fire station in West Ashley.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg called Thursday and Friday “sacred days” in light of the commemorations of the Charleston church shootings on June 17, 2015, and the deaths of the nine firefighters on June 18, 2007.
“We will prosecute. We will find out who fired those shots and we will prosecute them to the full extent of the law,” Tecklenburg said.
Police responded to at 10:04 p.m. Wednesday night to the area of Pebble Road and Sarah Street investigate a report of approximately eight shots fired. Officers did not initially find any sign of damage or a gunman. But police said damage to the fire station, which is in the same area, was discovered at approximately 7 a.m. Thursday.
Police said the damage to the building is estimated to be about $10,000 because of the cost of the hurricane-ready glass.
“I think this goes without saying that in the fire department were shocked, were hurt or angry,” Charleston Fire Chief Dan Curia said. “The timing of it, whether it was intentional or not, is critical to how the fire department’s psyche is managed over the next couple of days. What I can tell you is, as disappointed as I am, as angry as I am, what we won’t do is, we will not shift the focus of the Charleston Fire Department away from the nine firefighters who gave their lives at the Sofa Super Store fire. That’s our focus.”
The building was not occupied at the time of the shooting. Curia said the fire station will not be open for several more weeks.
“It makes me angry,” Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said. “Every community member should share in that anger.”
The station is located next to Charleston 9 Memorial Park and built in honor of the nine city firefighters who died battling the Sofa Super Store fire on June 18, 2007.
Charleston city spokesman Jack O’Toole said no injuries were reported and said bulletproof glass designed to shatter when struck prevented the bullets from entering the building.
An incident report states police spotted four bullet holes, two on the glass doors and two in upper windows. Investigators recovered two compacted bullets in front of the rear doors and two partial bullet jackets nearby. They did not find shell casings, the report states.
But the incident report states two video cameras were active at the time of the incident.
The incident comes as the city is preparing to hold a ceremony to commemorate the 14 years since the deadly fire. Firefighter Brandon Thompson, Engineer Brad Baity, Capt. Louis Mulkey, Engineer Mark Kelsey, Capt. Mike Benke, Capt. William Hutchinson, Firefighter Melvin Champaign, Asst. Engineer Michael French, and Firefighter James “Earl” Drayton all died battling the fire.
The fire station features nine windows, each for a fallen firefighter, that each face the memorial site. All of the fire trucks in the apparatus bay will be visible from the Memorial Park and the fire station will connect to the park.
The city of Charleston purchased the site of the former furniture store in 2008 and built the park.
The annual remembrance ceremony is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
Anyone with information on the incident should call the Charleston Police Department’s on-duty detective at 843-743-7200.
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