Big Bucks Pawn, Ladson

A Berkeley County Sheriff's Office vehicle is seen outside Big Bucks Pawn in Ladson on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 after a man was arrested for allegedly firing shots inside the store. Berkeley County Sheriff's Office/Provided

A man clad in body armor who fired shots inside of a Ladson pawn shop Tuesday afternoon later told detectives that "the Russians" were sending him messages, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office.

Gregory Franklin Westfall, 36, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, and one count each of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and armed robbery, said Chief Deputy Mike Cochran, a Sheriff's Office spokesman. His last known address was West Landmark Street in Boise, Idaho.

"(Westfall) moved here sometime in the last month but had not established a residence that we can tell," Cochran said.

Deputies were called around 4:20 p.m. to Big Bucks Pawn Shop, 113 College Park Road, he said. They learned that a white male came into the store and asked to see an AR-15 rifle.

"While inspecting the rifle, the subject took out a loaded magazine for an AR-15 that he had on his person and inserted it into the (rifle)," he said. "He then began to shoot into the store and at two of the employees inside of the store."

A store employee returned fire and the suspect, later identified as Westfall, fled the store, Cochran said.

Deputies found him in a wooded area behind the pawn shop, he said. The AR-15 rifle was still in his possession when he was taken into custody without further incident.

"Westfall was wearing ballistic armor at the time of the incident," Cochran said. "When Berkeley County Sheriff's detectives interviewed Westfall, he made several statements regarding 9/11 and that 'the Russians' were sending him messages."

Investigators found Westfall's Dodge Ram pickup truck and a book bag with unknown contents at the scene, he said. The Charleston County Bomb Squad was called to help clear the bag's and the truck's contents.

Because of the nature of the incident and comments Westfall made during his interview, local authorities called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI to assist in the investigation, Cochran said.

Westfall is being held at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center pending warrant service and a bond hearing, he said. No one was injured during the incident.

"We are thankful that nobody was injured during this incident," said Sheriff Duane Lewis, in a statement. "Thankfully citizens provided 911 with good information as the suspect tried to escape the area on foot. The assistance of our local and federal partners is also appreciated, we called them for some of their technical expertise and resources."

Angie Jackson contributed to this report.

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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