FLORENCE, SC — Three deputies were going to his house to investigate a sexual assault case allegedly involving his son. When they got out of their car, Frederick Hopkins shot them, officials say.
Hopkins, 74, is facing murder and attempted murder charges after authorities say he shot seven law enforcement officers Wednesday in Florence, South Carolina.
“These officers were ambushed very quickly,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, whose office is conducting the investigation. “As soon as they got there, the ambush was in place.”
The three Florence County sheriff’s deputies went to Hopkins’ house to interview his adopted son, 28-year-old Seth Hopkins, as part of an investigation into criminal sexual assault, Lott said.
They called ahead and knew someone inside the home was expecting them. They also brought a search warrant with them, Lott said.
“These officers did absolutely nothing wrong,” Lott said. “I don’t want anybody to think their procedures were incorrect, that anything they did was improper. They did not. This was an ambush that you just can’t prevent.”
Sgt. Terrence Carraway, a 30-year veteran of the Florence Police Department who rushed to the scene to provide backup, was killed and six other law enforcement officers were injured.
Frederick Hopkins was formally charged Friday with one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting. Seth Hopkins has also been arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, Lott said.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Friday that a foster child who lived in the home was the victim of the alleged sexual assault, but authorities did not address that issue Friday.
Both men are being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County and have been denied bond, CNN affiliate WBTW in Florence reported.
Frederick Hopkins was disbarred as an attorney in 1984, four years after he got his law license, according to records. He was ordered to pay $18,000 to a Lexington County court, an amount said to be equal to the sum of “wrongfully collected attorney fees.”
He was charged in 2014 with disorderly conduct in a traffic incident and ordered to pay a fine, court records show.
Hopkins and his wife have nine adopted children, a woman who said she was a longtime family friend told The State newspaper.
Officials did not provide details about how many children were in the house at the time of the shooting, but Florence County Solicitor E.L. Clements III told reporters a hearing was held Friday in family court regarding emergency protective custody for the youths.
Some officers in critical condition
Three days have passed since the shooting, and several law enforcement officers remain hospitalized.
Two sheriff’s deputies are in critical condition, Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby said, and the third is in stable condition.
One Florence police officer, Scott Williamson, is still receiving treatment, officials said. Two other police officers were released Wednesday night.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office identified the injured officers in a statement Friday.
The injured deputies were investigators Sarah Miller and Farrah Turner and Deputy Arie Davis.
It’s unclear whether authorities have determined why officers were fired on when they arrived at the house.
“This a very large, complex puzzle that we’re filling the pieces in, piece by piece — what, why and who,” Lott told reporters Friday.
The investigation is ongoing, he said. The FBI is helping to process the crime scene.
Slain officer was a ‘gentle giant’
City officials have lauded Carraway as a man with a steady temperament and a deep commitment to his community.
Florence police Chief Allen Heidler fought back tears Thursday as he recalled the slain sergeant as a good friend and “the bravest police officer” he’s ever known.
Carraway had started a mentoring program for disadvantaged youths called Camp FEVER, Heidler said.
“He had a passion for kids … to see kids in impoverished areas have the opportunity to do the things they might not have the opportunity” to do, Heidler said. “He was a giant of a man, but he was the proverbial gentle giant, and I loved him.”
An autopsy was to be performed at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, WBTW reported.
Carraway’s pastor, the Rev. Cecil Bromell of the First Baptist Church of Florence, said there would be a public viewing of the officer from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday at the Florence Center, and a memorial service at noon.