FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Florence County’s sheriff revealed he was fired upon during an officer-involved shooting last week.
Sheriff TJ Joye was one of the officers at a home at the intersection of Hicks Road and Factory Street in Coward on Feb. 17 after calls came in of a suspect threatening to set fire to a home and shooting outside of the residence.
Authorities said that when deputies arrived on the scene, the suspect fired at them and eventually set fire to the house after barricading himself.
Joye said he and 10 members of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team were inside the department’s Lenco Bearcat G3 armored vehicle when at least two rifle rounds were fired at the bearcat, one of which struck a window where the sheriff was sitting. He said he was not injured.
Eventually, the suspect left the home and opened fire on deputies again, who returned fire and wounded the man. No FCSO officers were injured in the incident, according to information from the department.
Law enforcement took the man to the hospital for treatment and the State Law Enforcement Division was asked to conduct an investigation.
After taking office, Joye noticed they didn’t have any fully capable armored vehicles.
“The training is there, but if you don’t have anything to get you to that point and protect you, you’re fighting a losing battle,” said Joye.
Florence County Council purchased the bearcat for $233,000.
“Thank God for the county council and Rusty Smith. They listened to me and worked well with us and we went ahead with this vehicle, and at the time we had nothing to advance and now we do,” said Joye.
After what could have been a tragedy, Joye feels much better about the safety of his deputies while responding in the bearcat.
“They did a great job last week, and I’m proud of them, but the main thing is we all went home,” said Joye.