Florence County Sheriff opens up about shooting of 7 officers


    Florence County Sheriff opens up about shooting of 7 officers (WPDE)

    FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone talked openly Tuesday about a shooting that wounded seven officers back on Oct. 3 outside a home on Ashton Court in the Vintage Place subdivision in Florence.

    Florence Police Sgt. Terrance Carraway died on scene. Florence County Investigator Farrah Turner died three weeks later in the hospital.

    ABC 15's Tonya Brown talked with Boone outside the home. Boone said it's still hard for him.

    "It brings back, you know, horrible memories. Some days even right after this event, you think about, was this a nightmare? Am I gonna wake up and something different," said Boone.

    Boone said deputies faced a difficult situation that day and he wants to shed a little more light into what they encountered.

    He added five deputies went to the home to serve a search warrant, including lead investigator Farrah Turner. Deputies also wanted to talk with 28-year-old Seth Hopkins about a sex crime with a minor.

    Boone said before they send anyone to serve a search warrant, they always review the situation to determine how dangerous it is. He said in this situation they determined it wasn't necessary to send any additional officers beyond the five that went to the home.

    It did not show that we needed that extra support. You know, today, it just seems like for her and the other officers, more of a routine follow up type investigation where they were going to execute a search warrant, retrieve some evidence needed in a case, where she was obviously the case agent on, and then very, very quickly , it turned very bad and deadly.

    Boone said steady gunfire erupted from the home. He said bullets were landing as far as several hundred feet from the home.

    Farrah was shot first. He said two other deputies were hit and wounded by gunfire, according to Boone.

    Four Florence police officers provided backup and were shot as well, including Sgt. Terrance Carraway, who died on scene.

    "We were returning suppression fire while we recovered these officers. But knowing even the pressure that was on us, making these decisions on what we do. We still had four teens that was in the house. We had to make sure they were protected as well," said Boone.

    Boone said he had nearly 50 officers strategically placed around the home. They had a helicopter flying over the home, but the suspected shooter, 74-year-old Frederick Hopkins, Jr., still had the advantage.

    "We had it covered for what we had to work with. He still had the advantage, you know, with the visibility he had. Particularly, down the road and anything that came, from the front of the house. And it was tough. Even the recovery of those officers, there was steady gunfire. And it's almost like you can still hear that today. Brings back so many memories," he said.

    Deputies used their military armored vehicle to get the wounded officers and to help get the teens out of the home.

    "It was important that we recover those officers that were wounded. And then we were going to address the situation. He was either gonna give up, or we eliminate that threat in whatever we had to do," said Boone.

    Boone said officials with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) called and offered help, but he didn't accept the offer.

    Many people have criticized Boone for not accepting the help. Boone explained why he turned them down.

    "SLED had called and talked with the chief. Talked to the assistant chief. Both of which obviously offered SWAT team assistance. You know, I explained to both of them then, it's not that we don't want you, we don't need you. The reason is, this thing's gonna be over in 10 minutes. And just been a tough situation for us. We were gonna eliminate this threat one way or another. Soon as we took these officers, got them medical assistance," he said.

    Boone said Hopkins surrendered and was then taken into custody.

    He stands by his decision to call Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and his department to investigate the crime scene.

    "I called Sheriff Lott, obviously, and the contacts he had not just locally, but nationally. I knew it was going to take something, especially a scene of this magnitude. And I knew that SLED's not capable of handling scenes like this. You know they've lost a lot of officers who are experienced. They rely on a lot of officers that are fresh out of college. And because of what I thought was best, I wanted the very best to take care of the victims in this case, as well as our officers and constituents, and in particular the people who live in this neighborhood," he said.

    Boone said he doesn't regret how they responded to the situation, but wishes it would have ended without Turner and Carraway losing their lives.

    It's tough. And if I can do anything to bring Farrah back and Terrence, obviously I would. It was extremely important, that day, we made a decision. Split second decision making, again, to where he had to make, what we considered, the right call. Today we look back and debriefings and stuff that we had. We know that we did exactly what we needed to do. I just wish we could change things with the officers we lost.

    Boone said they're now just waiting on the court system to bring them justice.

    "We want justice. You know under the state system, it could take up to seven years. I've heard that particular night, President Trump was very interested in what was going on in South Carolina and he made mention that all officer shootings should be handled on a federal level, which I totally agree with. I'm not sure that solicitors or particular DA's would go for that or agree with it. But, under the federal system and under their guidelines would be a faster way to seek justice. Particular in a case like this," he said.

    In the meantime, Boone said he's provided mental health counseling to his deputies who needed it because the shooting was a very traumatic experience; one he hopes they'll never have to experience again.

    "Just hope some way or another there will be closure," he said.

    Hopkins, Jr. is charged with two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. The younger Hopkins has since been charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

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