4 SC officers shot in domestic violence call, helicopter hit

One officer was critically wounded in the shooting, police said

By Hannah Smoot and Andrew Dys
The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

YORK, S.C. — Four South Carolina police officers were shot in a gunfight during an overnight domestic violence call and manhunt outside York, and one was “critically wounded,” police said.

Three of the injured officers were York County Sheriff’s deputies. One is a K-9 officer, who was searching for the suspect when he was shot. The other two are members of the York County SWAT team, police said.

The fourth injured officer, who also is on the county SWAT team, is a York Police Department officer, said York Police Chief Andy Robinson.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson identified the injured officers Tuesday afternoon as sheriff’s K-9 Deputy Sgt. Randy Clinton, Sgt. Buddy Brown, Detective Mike Doty and York Police Sgt. Kyle Cummings. Doty is the officer in critical condition, Tolson said.

One officer was “critically wounded, and his situation is very critical at this time,” said Trent Faris, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, during a midday news conference Tuesday. Faris said one of the four officers is in recovery after surgery and three others are in “some point of the process of surgery.”

“I am devastated. Our officers are devastated,” an emotional Tolson said by phone from the hospital early Tuesday. “The entire sheriff’s office family is devastated. We all feel as though we were attacked.

“Nobody understands how it could get to this point. This attack on police has been going on for years. And now it is right here.”

Robinson, the York police chief, said by telephone from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte that dozens of police officers were at the hospital.

“This is the worst-case scenario for officers and their families, and right now we are concerned about all of them,” Robinson said. “This is what we hope never happens. And it did.”

York Mayor Eddie Lee and York’s city manager went to the hospital and met with Cummings and his family when the officer came out of surgery.

“Everyone seems to be relieved that the officer appears to be pulling through,” Lee said. “When officers are attacked, the community is attacked. We are all appalled by this shooting of four courageous people.”

Tolson said: “We ask that everyone pray for (the officers), and for every officer who puts his or her life on the line for the public.”

Christian Thomas McCall, 47, is the suspect. McCall, who also was at CMC Charlotte, was injured in the gunfight but his condition was unclear. McCall was charged by Florence, S.C., police in 1994 with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and simple assault, State Law Enforcement Division records show.

A helicopter from the State Law Enforcement Division had been searching for the suspect when gunfire hit the aircraft, a SLED spokesman said.

The town of York is the county seat for York County, and is west of Rock Hill.

Police had been called to a domestic incident at the McCall home on Farrier Lane, just outside York at about 10:10 p.m. Monday, Faris said. The suspect had fled, and K-9 units were called, Faris said.

The York County K-9 officer was shot during the search and taken in a patrol car to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, Faris said.

Several police agencies then started searching for the suspect, Faris said.

Kim Hamrick, who lives nearby, said she heard the gunfire and the “awful and terrifying” shots and scream about an officer being down. The incident happened just a few hundred yards from her home, Hamrick said.

“The whole thing was terrifying,” Hamrick said. “I could hear the screaming. I heard, ‘Officer down.’ ”

Shots were fired again at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and three more officers — two York County sheriff’s deputies and the York police officer — were hit, Faris said.


LIVE: 11:30 media briefing on the YCSO shooting incident from earlier this morning

Posted by York County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Two injured officers were airlifted to CMC Charlotte, and one was taken by ground to the same hospital, Faris said.

The SLED helicopter was carrying two pilots when it came under fire during the search, SLED spokeman Thom Berry said. The officers on the helicopter were not injured but the helicopter’s rear stabilizer was hit, Berry said.

SLED has several teams of agents working the case, with sheriff’s deputies and other police.

“We have agents from the Piedmont and Midlands at the crime scene, agents at the hospitals and agents in other areas of the investigation,” Berry said.

Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, the top prosecutor for York County, said information is still being gathered and it is too early to talk about what charges might develop.


©2018 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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