SLED investigating how fleeing Columbia robbery suspect shot, killed self

jmonk@thestate.comJuly 22, 2013 

LED has been called in to investigate the aftermath of a Sunday night armed robbery in which a suspect fleeing from a Columbia police officer allegedly stopped and then shot himself in the head.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Monday the man, identified as Donald Ross Rikard, 21, of the 400 block of Live Oak, died of his wound several hours later.

“There is no indication to suggest that the Columbia Police Department officer discharged his weapon,” police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons said Monday.

“As part of protocol, SLED is being called in to make sure that is the case.”

Timmons said current details are sketchy but this much can be reported from official accounts and an incident report:

After an armed robbery of a restaurant shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday in the 600 block of Beltline Boulevard near Garners Ferry Road, an alert went out to area police to be on the lookout for a car said to belong to a suspect.

Shortly before midnight, when a Columbia police officer spotted a car matching that description, the officer tried to make a traffic stop but the car sped off, in the process slamming into another car near Pelham Drive behind the Shoppes at Woodhill Mall center.

At that point, the suspect’s car was so badly damaged it could go no further. He fled on foot with what a police report described as a “long gun” in his hand. He began to run and entered into the Hampton Courts complex at 501 Pelham Drive. The Columbia police officer left his car and on foot followed the man to the rear of the complex.

At that point, the officer took cover and ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. The suspect then knelt over the gun, fired a single bullet and fell unconscious to the ground, the police report said.

The man was still alive when he arrived at a local hospital but died around 4:30 a.m. Monday, Watts said.

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