SLED: Sketch in Berkeley Co. deputy shooting was suspect killed in shootout Thursday

Authorities: DNA match led police to suspect in attempted murder of Berkeley Co. deputy
Streets closed by the standoff.
Streets closed by the standoff.
Charleston authorities hold a press conference on the fatal shootout Thursday afternoon. (Photo Source: Live 5)
Charleston authorities hold a press conference on the fatal shootout Thursday afternoon. (Photo Source: Live 5)
Jerome Thomas Caldwell (Source: Georgetown County Sheriff's Office)
Jerome Thomas Caldwell (Source: Georgetown County Sheriff's Office)
Lt. Will Rogers was shot several times by a masked suspect late Thursday night. (Photo Source: Facebook)
Lt. Will Rogers was shot several times by a masked suspect late Thursday night. (Photo Source: Facebook)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A spokesman with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division confirmed Friday morning a sketch released following the shooting of a Berkeley County deputy was the gunman fatally shot by Charleston police Thursday.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Jerome Thomas Caldwell, 32, the man police suspected in the attempted murder of a Berkeley County deputy and who was fatally shot Thursday after opening fire on officers, was the person in the sketch.

Officials with the Charleston Police Department say the officers involved in Caldwell's shooting are Master Police Officer Omar Bautista, a 14 year CPD veteran, and Officer Brandon Parker, a 4 year CPD veteran.

CPD officials say the officers have been placed on paid administrative leave which is normal protocol.

Berry said there was no "person of interest" currently being sought in the shooting of Deputy Lt. Will Rogers on May 14.

SLED has been handling the investigation of the deputy's shooting, while the Moncks Corner Police Department took the lead in the investigation into the carjacking that happened at the shooting scene.

10-hour standoff downtown ends in gunfire

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at 1:47 p.m. Thursday, Caldwell came out of the rear of the apartment in which he had been holed up since approximately 4 a.m. and fired multiple shots at police officers. The officers returned fire, fatally striking Caldwell, Mullen said.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said Caldwell was pronounced dead at 1:59 p.m.

On Thursday afternoon, Caldwell's mother said she spoke on the phone to her son while he was inside the apartment and right before he decided to come out. According to the mother, Caldwell, who lived in Mount Pleasant, was in downtown because he was visiting his child in the hospital. 

Caldwell's mother said her son asked her to turn him over to investigators so the family would get the reward money. 

Mullen said police negotiators were in contact with Caldwell throughout the day by telephone. Mullen also said shots had been heard inside the apartment throughout the day during those negotiations.

SLIDESHOW:Standoff with suspect in Berkeley Co. deputy shooting

"Throughout these negotiations, there were discussions about shooting police officers, there were discussions about committing suicide, and there were also discussions about several demands that were made," Mullen said. "As we talked with this individual, our goal was to have him come out peaceably, and this situation end without any incident."Mullen reiterated this was preliminary information in a fluid situation.

"There's been a lot of developments that have occurred, and we are working with SLED," Mullen said. "They are here on the scene, their crime scene is here, and they will be handling the investigation as we go forward. The police department will continue to cooperate in any way that we can."

Mullen sent out their sympathies to Caldwell's family, who he said would be receiving regular updates from police as the investigation continues.

Mayor Joe Riley thanked officers for their "superb handling of a very dangerous incident."

"We are fortunate that because of their skillful, hard work, no one in the neighborhood was injured, no innocent party was injured, notwithstanding a gunman holed up inside of a residence for quite some time," Riley said. "They did everything they could possibly do to convince him to come out peacefully. It's apparent that he was determined to have it end the way it did. He fired at our police officers and they returned fire."

Riley said their hearts go out to Caldwell's family.

"They are innocent victims of this tragedy, and to lose a loved one, no matter what the circumstances are, to the family members, is heartbreaking," Riley said.

Riley also said because gas was fired into the apartment in an attempt to coax Caldwell out, five families who live there are being housed in public accommodations in the community with funds for their food and care while the residences are put back in operating order.

Tip, DNA match, led authorities to suspect

Berkeley County Interim Sheriff Butch Henerey said the situation arose from a tip that came to the sheriff's office on Saturday and was turned over to SLED agents. At approximately 6 p.m. Wednesday, a DNA match was determined that apparently linked Caldwell to the shooting of Berkeley County Deputy Lt. Will Rogers."That brought us to where we're at today," Henerey said. He would not elaborate on details of the DNA match.

Mullen said a SLED agent approached the Cromwell Alley apartment at 3:47 a.m. to speak to Caldwell. SLED had issued a warrant for Caldwell's arrest on a charge of attempted murder, Mullen said.

As the agent spoke with Caldwell, Mullen said the door was slammed and agents were able to extricate one occupant of the apartment. A child was also inside the apartment and was released a short time later.

Mullen said at one point, Caldwell broke through the wall of one apartment to another where Chantal Lemon said she, a friend of hers and their kids were sleeping.

"I didn't know if I would be coming back home to my child," Lemon said.

According to Lemon, she heard a police officer trying to get a man out of the apartment next door and heard some shots fired. Lemon said it was at that point that the man knocked a hole inside of the wall and walked into Lemon's apartment.

"The only thing I could think of was my son," said Lemon who told the man she was scared for her son." He said, 'Well, I don't want to scare your [child].' And after a while, he told us that we could come downstairs...he was going to let us go. He didn't want to hurt us, and he didn't hurt our neighbors."

Charleston police said officers had set up a perimeter to protect other occupants of the apartment complex and efforts were made to begin negotiations with the suspect, Mullen said. Police set up operations in the area of Cromwell Alley, and asked motorists and pedestrians to avoid the area until further notice Thursday morning. Charleston police escorted families from Robert Mills Manor, which had been taped off.  Multiple agencies responded to assist agents and officers on the scene.

Charleston County School District confirmed Memminger Elementary went on administrative lockdown because of the ongoing activity in the area, but remained operational. School officials said the students would not be allowed outside until the standoff ended. Additional officers were assigned to the school, police said.

Witnesses reported seeing a police robot approaching the apartment with what appeared to be a cell phone.

Shortly before news broke that the suspect had been killed, over a dozen pops or bangs that sounded like gunfire could be heard coming from the apartment building where SWAT and other officers were gathered. After the first round of these bangs were heard, police said the sounds were "just one of the tactics police have deployed," via the department's Twitter account.

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