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S.C. police installing rifle racks in squad cars after officer shot

North Augusta police say the new setup will save precious seconds in an active shooter event


Todd Fletcher

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By Suzie Ziegler

NORTH AUGUST, S.C. — A South Carolina police department is upgrading its vehicle fleet with new rifle racks after an officer was shot last year while pursuing a suspect, The Post and Courier reported. Police say the rifle racks will keep duty weapons within easy reach and save precious seconds in an active shooter event.

The North Augusta city council approved the $30,000 upgrade on April 4.

The move comes after a December 9 incident in which Lt. Aaron Fittery was shot in the leg by a burglary suspect. Police said that Fittery lost time by having to go to the vehicle’s trunk to retrieve the weapon stored in a lockbox. If the rifle had been more accessible, Fittery would have gotten the situation under control sooner, police said.

“Any time you have an active shooter, you want to have access to your weapons and try to gain control of that situation as quickly as possible,” said John Thomas, North Augusta Chief of Police. “To have those things at your fingertips is obviously well better off than having to go to the back of the car to get them.”

Police said they had been considering rifle racks anyway, but the December shooting hurried their decision.

“It’s a lot better system than we have, something that we’ve needed for some time,” Thomas told The Post and Courier. “I hate to say it, but it’s gotten to the point where we need these types of things. It’s an officer safety issue, and that’s paramount to us in making sure our people have access to gain control over these situations.”

The man who shot Fittery, 46-year-old Thomas Arlington, was charged with four counts of attempted murder, among other charges.