Moncks Corner man charged with arson, domestic violence after 7-hour manhunt (copy)

Daniel Ward. Provided/File

A Moncks Corner man who targeted his estranged wife before kidnapping her at gunpoint and leading law enforcement on a chase that ended with a shootout on a busy area freeway will now spend several years in state prison.

Daniel Brooks Ward, 36, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder, one count of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and one count of kidnapping, according to the S.C. Attorney General's Office.

"We recognize the seriousness of these crimes and thank the men and women who put their lives in danger to bring Mr. Brooks to justice," said Robert Kittle, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office. "This case highlights the intersection of substance abuse and domestic violence, both of which we will continue to work hard to eradicate."

Ward's defense attorney, James Smiley, could not be reached for comment. 

In the year leading up to the April 2016 incident, authorities say Ward had several run-ins with the law after he set fire to his wife's home, kicked her during a confrontation, leading authorities on a chase that reached 108 mph and sending his wife threatening messages, in violation of a protective order.

He failed to show up for a court date on the day of the incident. His wife was sitting in her car and was on the phone with the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office when he suddenly showed up with a gun, got behind the wheel and forced her into the passenger's seat.

His wife's call was transferred to a 911 operator.

A deputy eventually spotted the car in the Lebanon community near Holly Hill but Ward didn't stop and led officers from several agencies on an hour long chase up I-95 through Orangeburg and Clarendon counties and then back down I-95 into Orangeburg County.

He hit several vehicles along the way before wrecking the car in the median near the Orangeburg exit.

Then Ward got out of the car and started shooting.

Three Berkeley County deputies and a Clarendon County deputy returned fire, hitting Ward and taking him into custody.

After entering his plea on Thursday, Ward was sentenced to 10 years in state prison with 5 years probation, according to court records. He received credit for 2 years, 97 days of time already served. He was also ordered to complete a drug and alcohol abuse program.

The sentence left at least one Lowcountry advocate for victims of domestic violence wishing for a more stringent penalty.

"The court system was too lenient," said Tosha Connors, executive director of My Sister’s House. "Daniel Ward is a violent offender with multiple arrests, and yet, it takes him kidnapping his wife and getting into a shootout with police to land him in jail for any substantial amount of time."

In a statement, Connors said she would like to see agencies that provide services to survivors of domestic violence, the court system, law enforcement agencies, health care professionals and advocates be consistent in their stance against such crimes.

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.