A Moncks Corner man who had been ordered to stay away from his wife kidnapped her at gunpoint Thursday morning, then led deputies on a chase through three counties that ended with a crash and gunbattle, authorities said.
Daniel Ward, 34, was airlifted to Palmetto Richland Hospital in Columbia with gunshot wounds. A condition report was not immediately available. Neither his wife nor deputies were hurt.
Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis held a news conference in the afternoon to explain what happened:
Ward was due in court Thursday morning for violating a protection order involving his wife, Brandy Ward, 33, of Summerville. Sometime around 8:30 a.m., his wife was sitting in her car and called the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office to discuss why he had not showed up. Ward suddenly showed up with a gun, got behind the wheel and forced his wife into the passenger’s seat. The Solicitor’s Office transferred the call to 911.
It’s not clear why Ward allowed his wife to remain on the phone. She gave the operator a description of the vehicle and their location and direction of travel. She also told the operator he had threatened either to kill himself or force cops to kill him.
At 9:12 a.m., a deputy spotted the car on S.C. Highway 176 in the Lebanon community near Holly Hill, with Ward driving and his wife a passenger. Ward refused to stop and led officers from several agencies on an hourlong chase up Interstate 95 through Orangeburg and Clarendon counties and then back down I-95 into Orangeburg County.
Ward hit several vehicles along the way, causing no serious injuries, and wrecked in the median near Exit 98. When deputies tried to approach the car, Ward starting shooting, Lewis said. Three Berkeley County deputies and a Clarendon County deputy returned fire, hitting Ward and taking him into custody.
The crash shut down I-95 while officers interviewed possible witnesses. The southbound lanes remained closed for several hours.
Lewis said deputies had no choice but to shoot Ward.
“I’m asking you to keep in mind that we had a suspect that was armed,” Lewis said. “He had a history of domestic violence. He’s been arrested by us several times ... and he had his wife at gunpoint.”
Ward was out of jail on $50,000 bail after being arrested in September and charged with domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, according to court records.
“Keep in mind the main focus was to try to rescue the kidnap victim, get her out of that situation, and that’s what they were trying to do,” Lewis said. “And he started shooting at them.”
Ward faces charges including four counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, failure to stop for a blue light, violating an order of protection and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
“We do not like to see these things end in gunfire,” the sheriff said, “but we did not make that choice. Mr. Ward made that choice. We just have to deal with it.”
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating, which is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings. The case will be submitted to the 1st Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Lewis said all three Berkeley deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
“They’re upset about what’s happened, and how it all transpired,” he said. “They don’t come to work thinking about getting into these types of situations. We live in a more violent society and it seems these things keep happening.”
According to SLED spokesperson Thom Berry, there is no body camera video of Thursday’s chase but there is dashcam video. “Efforts are underway to determine whether any video shows the shooting,” Berry said in a statement.
This is the 13th officer-involved shooting this year in South Carolina and the second involving the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, according to SLED. Cpl. Kimber Gist and a suspect were both wounded Feb. 26 in a shootout, according to authorities. The suspect was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
In 2015, there were 48 officer-involved shooting incidents in the state; three involved the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
Glenn Smith, Melissa Boughton and Caitlin Byrd contributed to this report.