Attacker had high-powered rifle, senator says

The Greenville News

Published 9:35 PM EDT Oct 4, 2018

Attacker had high-powered rifle, senator says

FLORENCE, S.C. – The gunman who shot seven Florence police officers and sheriff's deputies Wednesday did so from a second-story perch using a high-powered rifle, a South Carolina lawmaker said Thursday.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, a Florence Republican, told The Greenville News he has heard from multiple sources that the shooter was on the second-story of the house, which he said explains how police were struck before getting close.

Leatherman said he's been told the shooter is Frederick Hopkins, a 74-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran who is a disbarred lawyer, as the Associated Press has reported. Investigators said the officers were fired on when they attempted to serve a search warrant related to an alleged sexual assault on a foster child in the home, according to the AP.

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One Florence police officer, Sgt. Terrence Carraway, was killed, and three other officers and three sheriff's deputies were wounded in the incident. Two police officers were released from the hospital by Thursday and recovering, city officials said.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, whose agency has been asked to investigate the incident, said Thursday he could not discuss any details of the investigation, including what happened, the firearms used and the name of the suspect, though he said the suspect is in custody.

Other law enforcement officials also declined to go into detail about the shooting Thursday, though some previously confirmed deputies were shot as they attempted to serve a warrant and the police officers were shot as they came to their aid.

Police Chief Allen Heidler said Thursday one officer was shot while he was in his car.

Leatherman said he, too, is reluctant to talk about much of what he has heard since authorities are not publicly discussing it and many rumors about the case have been circulated.

Heidler acknowledged that Thursday by saying he wants his officers to receive a factual briefing to explore rumors being circulated on social media.

"Nobody knows what the motive was," Leatherman said.

Leatherman spoke to The Greenville News and Independent Mail as he and his wife returned from prayer services about the tragedy.

"I tell you, people have come together," he said. "It's amazing how something like this brings people together. Everybody has the issue in their prayers."

Leatherman has served in the Senate for 36 years.

"We're a strong people," Leatherman said. "We'll recover from it, too. It's going to take a while."

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