FLORENCE — Police recovered 129 guns from the home of a disabled Vietnam War marksman charged with killing one police officer and wounding six others, authorities said Tuesday.
In a sign of the fierce firefight that shook the suburban street west of Florence, investigation teams found at least 425 rounds were fired by the shooter and police officers, said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, whose agency is leading the investigation.
The shooter opened fire with a pistol and two military-style rifles and set up his house in a way that gave officers "no chance whatsoever" when he ambushed them earlier this month, sheriff told reporters.
"Just going inside ... was chilling to see how the house was set up," Lott said. "The officers had no chance whatsoever when they first came up.
"To go there and see what these officers were facing is something I never want to see again."
Police found another 126 other guns in the home — an arsenal that Lott suggested was purchased legally. The newly released information highlights the shear number of weapons in Fred Hopkins' home before one of the worst officer involved shootings since five policemen were killed in Dallas in 2016.
Lott said he was unaware if Florence County Sheriff's investigators knew Hopkins' home contained so many firearms when they showed up Oct. 3 to investigate a sexual assault allegation against his son.
"He was a gun enthusiast," Lott said "He shot a lot. He had a lot of guns."
Hopkins, a 74-year-old combat veteran and disbarred attorney, now faces a murder charge and six other attempted murder charges for the other wounded officers — four of whom remained in the hospital this week. He has been denied bond.
For more than two weeks, investigators with the Richland County Sheriff's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation swept through six blocks of the sprawling crime scene, located in a wealthy enclave of Florence.
The law enforcement teams, including the FBI and other agencies, finished that investigation Tuesday, and turned over the house to Hopkins' wife, Florence attorney Cheryl Turner Hopkins.
The initial findings suggested that 13 Florence County Sheriff's deputies and Florence Police officers who responded to the scene fired at least 390 rounds as they tried to rescue three of their colleagues who were allegedly ambushed by the shooter. Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway died from a gunshot wound after arriving at the scene.
The investigation suggested 39 bullets were fired from inside Hopkins' home, Lott said.
The shooter fired with deadly precision from a second story window in the brick-cased home. From that vantage point, the shooter could see about a half-mile directly down Ashton Drive, turning the residential street into a shooting gallery. Rounds were found up to six blocks away from the home, Lott said.
Seth Hopkins, his son who deputies wanted to interview, another unidentified adult and two children were inside the home during the shootout, the sheriff said.
The Richland County Sheriff's office did not provide details about how long the standoff between Hopkins and police took place, or how the officers ultimately apprehended the alleged shooter. They eventually brought in an armored vehicle to transport the wounded officers away from the scene.
The Richland Sheriff's office, Lott said, will now be working with the FBI to provide a comprehensive report to the prosecutors with the 12th Circuit Solicitor's office.
"This has been a traumatic experience for our entire community," Ed Clements, the solicitor, said Tuesday.
The police tape and crime scene investigators may have left the neighborhood Monday.
But signs of the deadly shooting were still evident.
The windows in Hopkins home were boarded up.
Neighbors replaced their porch lights with blue bulbs to honor the first responders.
And blue ribbons and other mementos to the wounded officers intermingled with homeowners' Halloween decorations.