FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - As 2018 wraps up, WMBF News is taking a look back at some of the biggest stories staff covered this year.
Oct. 3, 2018 will be long remembered as a solemn day in Florence County. It was the day a gunman, who authorities allege is 74-year old Frederick Hopkins, opened fire on law enforcement officers from his home in the Vintage Place neighborhood.
Investigators first arrived at the home on Ashton Drive around 4 p.m., with a search warrant. Officials said once the first three Florence County deputies arrived on scene, they were ambushed and shot.
Back-up law enforcement would race to the scene, which included members of the Florence Police Department. By 4:50 p.m., news came in that a second officer was hit. In seconds, a third was struck.
In total, seven law enforcement officers were shot. Three were deputies from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office - Deputy Arie Davis, Inv. Sarah Miller and Inv. Farrah Turner, who would later pass away from her injuries.
Also struck were four officers from the Florence Police Department – Ofc. Brian Hart, Ofc. Travis Scott Ofc. Scott Williamson.
During an emotional press conference, law enforcement would reveal that the fourth officer - Sgt. Terrance Carraway – died.
“Today will mark a horrific day for the Florence Police Department. Today we lost a good friend of mine, an officer I’ve known for 30 years,” said Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler.
Barricaded inside the home for nearly two hours – with children inside, according to authorities - Hopkins would finally be taken into custody. Investigators would later say the suspect was aware the three Florence County investigators were coming to the home and seemed to have planned the ambush.
WMBF News learned those investigators were trying to interview and serve a search warrant on Hopkins' son, 28-year-old Seth Hopkins, in connection to allegations of criminal sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl.
For days investigators would comb through the crime scene area, scouring six blocks and over 6,500 square feet inside the home for evidence.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott would reveal during a press conference what was found both outside and inside the home where Fredrick Hopkins allegedly opened fire.
More than 390 shell casings were recovered at the scene from the officers’ weapons. About 39 bullets were found inside the house, along the with three guns they believed Hopkins used to shoot at the officers. Investigators also said an additional 126 guns were recovered from that home.
Seth Hopkins was denied bond on a criminal sexual conduct charge. Meanwhile, authorities would formally charge Frederick Hopkins with murder and six counts of attempted murder.
Both Seth and Frederick Hopkins remain behind bars after being denied bond.
Now, more than two months after the deadly shooting, the Florence community continues to heal from the loss.