LAKE CITY, SC (WMBF) - A murder suspect who was wanted in Virginia is dead after being shot by police on Ron McNair Boulevard in Lake City at approximately 1:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to authorities.
Coroner Lutcken identified the suspect as Richard Lance London, 22, of Danville, Virginia. He was wanted in connection with the death of 80-year-old Melvin Eugene Powell in Danville on Sunday evening. Danville Police officers found Powell dead with visible signs of violent injury, according to Virginia affiliate WSLS. By that point, London had already driven away in a stolen vehicle, police said.
The officers conducted a traffic stop, and once the vehicle was stopped, London exited the vehicle and started shooting at the officers. The officers then returned fire, according to Interim Chief Jeff Johnson with the Lake City Police Department.
WMBF News talked with Johnson just hours after the shooting took place. He said, "I'm very fortunate. They are very fortunate. We don't want to lose any officers, we lose enough throughout the shootings that take place throughout the country. So we are very fortunate the officers did not get hit, unfortunate they had to intervene in the matter that they did, but those are the circumstances that do come with the job."
Johnson added that his officers responded the way they should, after both officers were shot at multiple times by the suspect. "Just because we are a small town things like this can happen here. You try to train your officers to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best," said Johnson.
Sabrina Brown was down the street from where the shootout happened. Brown said, "The police went speeding by the store, at the Markett, I came outside and heard gunshots. The man in the parking lot told me there was a shootout and I came to see what was going on. There was a man laying in the road. His gun was in the median and the area was being blocked off."
Chief Johnson said part of their job is to risk their lives for so many others. "We may have to shoot somebody, we may get shot, but that's just part of the job. Things are not what they should be right now in the country and we need the support of the law abiding citizens," Johnson said.
Later at 3:40 a.m. the suspect died at a local hospital due to injuries from the incident, according to Coroner Lutcken.
An autopsy is being performed this morning at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating this case.