Deputy shoots fleeing driver

Law enforcement officers inspect the car on Juniper Street that reportedly left the scene on S.C. Highway 61 near Playground Road where a Charleston County deputy is said to have fired shots at the driver, who allegedly tried to run over him during a traffic stop on Monday afternoon.

A deputy pulled over a small red sedan Monday afternoon on Ashley River Road and got out of his cruiser to speak with the driver in a parking lot. But as police often say, there are no routine traffic stops.

Authorities said the sedan suddenly roared to life and sped backward and then forward toward the deputy, who fired shots into the car.

Despite his bullet wounds and the car’s shattered glass, the driver headed back onto the highway.

The suspect was arrested later while “trying to change clothes” beneath someone’s clothes line in the Ardmore subdivision, said Chief Deputy John Clark of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

The injured man’s name was not released. He was taken to Medical University Hospital.

The deputy, who also wasn’t identified, was placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure any time an officer is involved in a shooting. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating, which also is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

The shooting happened about 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Performance Chiropractic at 1322 Ashley River Road. The gunshots startled many who work in the area’s many offices.

Dr. Michael Engel was tending to patients next door to the shooting site when he “heard five distinct shots.” He said he ran to the reception area and said, “?‘Those are gun shots. Go lock the doors.’ ”

Quickly, the front and back doors, and an interior door to the office were locked. Brenda Bloomingdale, who works the dentist’s office front desk, described the shots as “pow pow pow pow pow,” but said her first impression was “it sounded like somebody was hammering something.”

Clark said the deputy fired a .40-caliber Glock.

Beth Goodman, working across the street at Shelter Mortgage, said she heard three shots. “I thought it was a sledgehammer, and we all went to the windows to look,” she said.

Goodman said she saw the deputy running to his car, speaking on his shoulder-mounted walkie-talkie, and gesturing. Minutes later, many police vehicles were arriving, she said.

Clark said he didn’t know the reason the deputy stopped the car, but once both vehicles were in the parking lot, the deputy stepped from his cruiser to approach the red sedan. The sedan “backed up and tried to strike the deputy, and the deputy fired several rounds,” he said.

The sedan sped out of the lot and headed west on Ashley River Road. The deputy radioed descriptions of the vehicle and driver, and other Sheriff’s Office and Charleston city police vehicles in the area responded. A wide perimeter was set up, Clark said.

Officers sighted the red sedan, which Clark said had been abandoned in Ardmore. The car may be a rental and appeared to be in new condition, except for the bullet holes and shattered glass, he said.

Tracking dogs were brought to the scene and led deputies on a trail that ended in a residential backyard. He said the suspected driver, with bullet wounds, was trying to swap clothes in a backyard near White Oak Drive and Juniper Street.