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Loss of second officer heightens Florence shooting tragedy

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Farrah Turner (copy)

Florence County sheriff's investigator Farrah Turner was shot on Oct. 3 while trying to serve a warrant. She died on Monday. 

South Carolina has lost another courageous law enforcement officer.

On Monday, Florence County sheriff’s investigator Farrah Turner died following weeks in the hospital and multiple surgeries related to an Oct. 3 shootout that killed another officer and wounded five others.

Sgt. Terrence Carraway of the Florence Police Department died during the shooting. Four of the wounded officers have been released from hospitals. The seventh remains in recovery.

Ms. Turner’s friends and family described her as “selfless” and “a hero” who “devoted her life to protecting others” in messages on social media and a GoFundMe page that had been set up to help pay for her medical expenses and recovery.

Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone called her “the ultimate professional” and said “she dedicated her life to serving the victims of the worst crimes imaginable.”

Indeed, Ms. Turner reportedly filed the warrant that led Florence County deputies to the house of accused shooter Frederick Hopkins in order to investigate sexual assault allegations against his son, Seth Hopkins.

The younger Mr. Hopkins has been charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 11 years old and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor between 11 and 14 years old.

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Ms. Turner and her colleagues were planning to interview him and search his room for “mementos” of those alleged assaults, according to a report last week by The Post and Courier’s Angie Jackson.

As of Tuesday morning, the elder Mr. Hopkins still faced one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder. The charges will be upgraded.

After what officials described as an “ambush” in which hundreds of rounds of fire were exchanged between officers and the alleged shooter, law enforcement officers found 129 guns in his home. Fred Hopkins apparently had been waiting on police to arrive and opened fire from the second story when they stepped out of the car, according to officials.

There is likely little that South Carolina lawmakers or law enforcement professionals could do to prevent that kind of cold-blooded carnage in the future. Mr. Hopkins apparently acquired his arsenal legally. The officers arriving at his house seem to have responded as quickly and effectively as they could in a chaotic situation.

Still, as the investigation continues, state officials should be open-minded to any policy change that might protect the lives of law enforcement officers without unduly burdening South Carolina’s many law-abiding gun owners. Making it easier for police to know when legal weapons are present in a home could protect both officers and gun owners, for example.

In the meantime, South Carolina mourns the loss of a brave woman who gave her life for her community.

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