The alleged gunman who killed one police officer and wounded six others in South Carolina is a 74-year-old disbarred lawyer, according to authorities.
Frederick Hopkins, a Vietnam veteran who’d bragged online about his marksman skills, is said to have opened fire on the officers while they were trying to serve a search warrant at Hopkins’ home in an upscale neighborhood in Florence, a city about 80 miles east of Columbia that is dealing with flooding from the hurricane of the same name.
Hopkins was admitted to practice law in the Palmetto State in 1980, but he was disbarred four years later after the South Carolina Supreme Court found that he failed to obey a court order to repay $18,000 in wrongfully collected attorney fees.
His wife, Cheryl Turner-Hopkins, a family lawyer, also began practicing law in 1980, according to state records. She went on to become a “very well-respected attorney in town and known for having a big heart for children,” said local lawyer Gary Finklea of the Finklea Law Firm.
“As far as Fred goes in the legal community, I do not believe he was considered part of the legal community,” Finklea said. “But I think we all are concerned about the effect this has had on Cheryl and the kids who were in the house and the effect upon her clients. Our hearts go out for her as they do for all the other victims.”
He added, “We all have so many questions about what happened. Why did it happen?”
Local news outlets have reported that Hopkins began shooting while officers were serving a search warrant based on allegations that a 27-year-old living at the Hopkins residence had sexually assaulted a foster child at the house. Hopkins also allegedly held children hostage during the two-hour standoff.
None of the children was injured, but a 20-year-old inside the house was reportedly wounded and Frederick Hopkins sustained a head injury, USA Today reported.
In a 2014 Facebook post, Hopkins discussed firing his M14 rifle to celebrate his birthday and wrote that he’d been “shooting competitively since 1984 and lovin’ it. I just love the smell of gunpowder in the mornin’s,” according to the Associated Press.
The officer who was killed, Terrence Carraway, had been in law enforcement for 30 years and also served in the Air Force. He and the other wounded officers had to be evacuated from the shootout in a bullet-resistant vehicle.
“Fire was being shot all over; the way the suspect was positioned, his view of fire was several hundred yards, so he had an advantage,” Florence County Sheriff Kenny Boone said during a news conference. “The officers couldn’t get to the ones that were down, but thanks to an armored personnel carrier, we made sure all the officers that were shot were brought for medical attention.”