One suspect killed, another injured in early-morning incident

cwinston@thestate.comOctober 18, 2013 

One suspect was killed and another severely injured following an early Friday morning burglary attempt in Richland County.

Deputies shot one suspect multiple times at Columbia Powersports along Two Notch Road near Decker Boulevard around 3:30 a.m. after he drove his vehicle at them while they were attempting to make an arrest, Capt. Chris Cowan with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts identified the suspect Friday evening as Eddie Hollins, 33, of Columbia. Hollins died from complications of gunshot wounds to the upper body, Watts said.

A second suspect was injured when Hollins drove over him twice in an attempt to escape capture. He was identified as 43-year-old James Branch. He faces charges of second-degree burglary and two counts of attempted murder upon his release from Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital, where he is in critical condition.

Following a string of four burglaries at Midlands’ cycle centers in recent days, including one late Thursday at a business along Fernandina Road, Richland County K9 Deputy Adam Oxendine set up surveillance at Columbia Powersports along Two Notch Road. During his surveillance, he heard glass breaking as someone drove a pickup truck through the glass front of the building, Cowan said.

Oxendine radioed a burglary in progress, and Senior Deputy Clay Short soon arrived. While the deputies were able to apprehend and handcuff Branch, deputies say Hollins jumped into the pickup truck and backed out of the storefront.

Hollins drove the vehicle through a retaining wall and at deputies and Branch, running over Branch and then backing up and running over Branch again. Both deputies fired, hitting the truck and the suspect. Hollins managed to drive the blue pickup truck a mile along Two Notch Road before crashing into Bakers Sports Pub & Grill, badly damaging the business.

“This is what they are trained to do,” Cowan said. “They are trying to prevent crime from happening, arrest suspects and end the danger to the community.”

Cowan said, as is typical in these situations, the State Law Enforcement Division will conduct an investigation.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department will follow its own protocols that ensure deputies are “cared for.” That includes counseling, support and critical incident debriefing.

Hollins was the fourth person shot and killed by Richland County Sheriff’s deputies so far in 2013.

“They were forced to do something that nobody wants to do, but they had to do,” Cowan said. “It’s a long process.”

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