Standoff that blocked I-26 near Columbia airport exit ends; suspect dies

The I-26 standoff ends with suspect dead

Law enforcement appear to carry the suspect of the I-26 standoff, who was confirmed daed, on a stretcher to an ambulance.
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Law enforcement appear to carry the suspect of the I-26 standoff, who was confirmed daed, on a stretcher to an ambulance.

What began as a call about a disabled vehicle in rural Lexington County on Wednesday morning led to a chase and hourslong standoff that shut down Interstate 26 and ended with deputies fatally shooting a suspect.

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher identified the suspect as 29-year-old Robert B. Shaw, of West Columbia. Fisher said Shaw died at a hospital from injuries suffered when he was shot by Lexington County deputies, but did not say where the fatal shot hit him.

Earlier in the day, Shaw led officers on a chase through at least three jurisdictions before crashing on I-26, prompting a standoff that snarled traffic in both directions for three hours.

The wild series of events began around 8:30 a.m., when state troopers said they were responding to a disabled vehicle on Pine Plain Road in the Swansea area, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. The man ran away from the car, carrying a bag.

Deputies in the area later saw a man matching Shaw's description in a Chevrolet pickup, and a chase ensued, Koon said. Shaw led officers on a chase that went through Lexington County, into the city of Columbia and back into Lexington County, Koon said.

Robert Shaw, from December 2017 Lexington County Detention Center

A witness to part of the chase, Leroy Barnes, lives just off Exit 115, which is near where the truck eventually crashed.

"The guy passed me with three wheels on the truck. The other wheel was gone," he said of the suspect. "All of a sudden ... Lexington County was behind him. As I got down the road, I guess all the tires blew out."

Cayce Public Safety officers intercepted the vehicle as it made its way onto the eastbound lanes of I-26, stopping it with tire-deflating strips, Koon said. The car spun out and came to a stop, where it was surrounded by law enforcement officers.

"Immediately when he spun out, we saw he had a small handgun to his head," Koon said.

As deputies tried negotiating with Shaw, they learned he was wanted on General Sessions court warrants for failing to appear in court, unlawfully carrying a pistol, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of methamphetamine and failure to stop for blue lights, Koon said.

"Negotiations were going good for several hours, then it just kind of broke down," Koon said. After 2.5 hours of negotiating, the tactical team began "tactical maneuvers."

"We gave this individual every opportunity to peacefully surrender," Koon said. "As we did our approach, he made a sudden movement in the car and we fired some rounds to stop the threat."

The standoff was over about 1:45 p.m. No officers were injured.

Traffic congestion, shutdown on I-26 highway in Cayce, SC near the Columbia Metropolitan Airport due to police chase and standoff between police and suspect.

Deputies began first aid on Shaw, and EMS crews who were on standby took him to Lexington Medical Center, Fisher said.

The State Law Enforcement Division will investigate the shooting, which is standard for all officer-involved shootings. The deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave, Koon said.

"Our hearts go out to the family of the suspect," the sheriff said. "But unfortunately, in the course of us doing business and serving warrants, we encounter people sometimes who just don't want to go back to jail, and I think that was the case today."

West Columbia police, the Richland County Sheriff's Department, the Cayce Department of Public Safety, the Highway Patrol and the U.S. Marshals also were involved in Wednesday's pursuit and standoff.

By 2 p.m., the westbound lanes of I-26 had reopened. Two eastbound lanes were open by Wednesday evening, but troopers say the other eastbound lanes will remain closed for several hours.

Photojournalists Tim Dominick and Ashlen Renner contributed.

Leroy Barnes witnessed the police chasing a car with three wheels on I-26 during what became a police standoff.