The gunman accused of firing at police outside of his upscale home in Florence, South Carolina last week ambushed the officers in what became an unpreventable tragedy, investigators said.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters Friday 74-year-old Fred Hopkins faces first degree murder for the shooting death of Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway. Authorities also charged him with six counts of attempted murder for wounding six other officers — including three investigators from the Florence County Sheriff’s Department — during the Oct. 3 attack.
“These officers did absolutely nothing wrong,” Lott said. “This was an ambush you can’t prevent.”
Lott said three Florence Police Department officers arrived at the house Wednesday afternoon for a scheduled interview with Hopkins’s adopted son, 28-year-old Seth Hopkins, regarding sexual assault allegations made against him. He said the elder Hopkins began shooting at the officers before they made it to the front door, killing Carraway.
Florence Police Department Chief Allen Heidler described 52-year-old Carraway as a 30-year veteran of the force and a close personal friend, telling reporters last week his death “is a tragic loss of life for me.”
“He was the epitome of a community police officer,” Heidler said. “He loved this community. He gave it his all.”
The Charlotte Observer identified the six other victims as Florence Officers Brian Hart, Travis Scott and Scot Williamson and Florence County Sheriff’s Investigators Arie Davis, Sarah Miller and Farrah Turner.
The Associated Press described Fred Hopkins as a disabled Vietnam War veteran and disbarred lawyer who lost his license in 1984 for wrongly collecting more than $18,000 in attorneys fees. His Facebook page also described a passion for competitive shooting, the AP reports.
Florence County Sheriff Kenny Boone said last week officers responded to the call unaware of the firepower waiting inside the house. He heralded the department’s military equipment, including an armored vehicle, for helping carry the wounded officers to safety.
Both Hopkins men remain in custody this week. Seth Hopkins faces second degree criminal sexual misconduct with a minor, according to the newspaper. The local code suggests the victim ranged between 11 and 14-years-old and police suspect there could be more.
“We will continue to fill in the blanks of the puzzle until we have this puzzle completely finished,” Lott said.