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At least 129 guns in home at scene of Florence police shooting, investigators say

Neighbor describes scene as Florence police shooting unfolds

Ann Dowdy, who lives in the Vintage Place neighborhood in Florence, S.C., describes watching law enforcement descend on her community. Seven police officers were shot, one fatally, in a nearby home on Oct. 3, 2018.
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Ann Dowdy, who lives in the Vintage Place neighborhood in Florence, S.C., describes watching law enforcement descend on her community. Seven police officers were shot, one fatally, in a nearby home on Oct. 3, 2018.

When sheriff’s deputies went to serve a warrant related to a child sex crimes investigation in Florence, South Carolina, there were at least 129 guns in the home, according to investigators.

Police say Frederick Hopkins opened fire at officers from a second-floor window on Oct. 3. “This was a planned ambush,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, tasked with investigating the shooting, said Tuesday.

He described walking into the home where the alleged shooter lived as a “chilling” scene. “The officers had no chance whatsoever,” he said.

Hopkins, 74, faces one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder, according to online court records.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, 13 days since the shooting, Lott said investigators believe Hopkins used one rifle and two pistols to shoot at officers as they tried to serve a warrant at the home. Lott said Hopkins fired about 39 rounds. The officers, he said, fired 390 rounds during the two-hour standoff.

There were two minors in the home during the standoff, and three adults, Fred Hopkins, Seth Hopkins — who now faces criminal sexual conduct with a minor charges — and another adult, Lott said.

Hopkins appeared in court earlier on Tuesday and a judge denied his request for a public defender on the charges, WPDE reports. Hopkins said he lives on a fixed income from disability and from the Department of Veterans Affairs and did not want to impact his family’s income, according to WPDE.

On Oct. 3, police say, Fred Hopkins opened fire on sheriff’s deputies with a high-powered rifle when they went to his suburban home just outside Florence city limits to investigate child sex abuse allegations.

Deputies went to the home to interview Hopkins’ adopted 28-year-old son, Seth Hopkins, in relation to sex crimes against a child. That’s when the senior Hopkins, a Vietnam veteran who had boasted online about his marksmanship, started shooting.

Seth Hopkins has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual misconduct with a minor between 11 and 14, according to court records.

Terrence Carraway, 52, a 30-year veteran with the Florence Police Department, died from his wounds that day.

Listen to this audio from police radio traffic after a suspect shot multiple law enforcement officers in West Florence, South Carolina, Oct. 3, 2018.

Tuesday, the Richland County sheriff described the investigation process. He said his crime scene unit worked with the FBI to process a crime scene that stretched six blocks and included scouring a house of more than 6,500 square feet. He said this was the largest crime scene he had ever seen.

He said investigators were interviewing all the officers and everyone else who was present that day and will deliver all the evidence to the solicitor.

The Florence Sheriff’s Office asked Richland County to handle the investigation. The police and sheriff’s office in Florence are “taking care of their own,” Lott said

Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting

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