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1 dead following officer-involved shooting in Lexington County overnight

Update, 3:37 p.m.: This story was updated to include additional information about the domestic dispute. The information was taken from an incident report provided by Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

Lexington County sheriff’s deputies were involved in a shooting early Friday morning that left one man dead. What began as a dispute between a man and a woman turned into a chase and a shootout at a residence in Leesville, according to police.

Officers responded just before 2 a.m. Friday to a call about a domestic dispute off of Interstate 20 at exit 39 at the Hillview Truck Stop in Leesville, according to an incident report and a video statement from Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon that was posted to the department’s social media pages.

Police received a call about a man who held a gun to a woman’s head and tried to take her vehicle at the truck stop. The woman who called police was “crying and visibly shaking” and had visible bruises and swelling on her face when officers arrived, according to an incident report. She told police that her ex-boyfriend had taken her car, threatened to kill her and himself and hit her in the face three times, the report said.

The man was identified as Chad Willis Huggins, according to Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher.

The woman had been nearby at a friend’s house when she saw her ex-boyfriend, a 28-year-old landscaper she had dated for five years, arrived. When she tried to leave in her vehicle, Huggins jumped inside the passenger’s side, pointed a handgun at her said and told her, “’Do what I say or I’ll blow your brains out,’ ” according to the report. Huggins sat on top of the woman while she drove, “using his feet to stomp the gas pedal and brake,” the report said. When she asked him to get out of her vehicle, Huggins reportedly said that she could not leave because “’the feds are after him.’ ”

At the truck stop, Huggins punched her in the face and struck her with a firearm before taking her vehicle, she told police, according to the report. The woman told police that Huggins was “a methamphetamine user, and that he has been ‘strung out’ for the past two weeks,” the report said.

Huggins took the vehicle before deputies arrived, so the officers went searching for the vehicle and made contact on the south end of the county, Koon said.

When officers tried to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle turned off of Seleta Circle and Windy Wood, and the suspect led the officers to a residence, Koon said. Upon exiting his vehicle, Huggins made a comment about the police having to kill him, according to Koon.

Huggins then fired multiple rounds at deputies, entered the house, and once inside house, was still pointing his gun at police, Koon said. There were three other people at the residence, according to the video statement.

Deputies fired a round, hitting Huggins, and entered the house. They rendered aid, called EMS, and Huggins was taken to an area hospital where he died from his injuries, Koon said. Only one deputy was injured, as a result of a dog bite.

An autopsy is scheduled on Sunday for the 28-year-old Gaston man, according to the coroner’s office.

One of the deputies involved was placed on administrative leave, according to spokesperson Capt. Adam Myrick, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting, Koon said.

“It ended up being a tragic situation. Our hearts go out to the family of the victim,” Koon said in the video. “... If that situation hadn’t ended like it did, it definitely would have been more lives that were put at risk. He was firing rounds, there were obviously occupants of the house that were in danger. It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Koon said.

The Friday morning shooting was the 35th officer-involved shooting in South Carolina this year, and the second in 2019 that involved officers from Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, according to a SLED news release. In 2018, three of the state’s 43 officer-involved shootings involved Lexington County Sheriff’s deputies, the release said.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

About 'police-involved shootings'

The State strives to make our writing clear and free of jargon. We also try to use wording that won’t inflame a serious situation, such as an incident in which a police officer shoots someone.

We understand that some readers dislike the term “police-involved shooting” or “officer-involved shooting” and we agree that such phrases are ambiguous. In this case, however, police have not confirmed how the officer was involved. We are working diligently to gather more details.

The wording in this story reflects only what we know now: that a police officer was at the scene of this shooting death.

Isabella Cueto is a bilingual multimedia journalist covering Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of South Carolina. She previously worked as a reporter for the Medill Justice Project and WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she studied journalism and theatre arts.
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