Authorities have released the identity of the man killed Monday in an officer-involved shooting near the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a press conference Tuesday morning that the murder suspect from Texas who died during an altercation with law enforcement was Damon James, 42.
James died Monday afternoon from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound following a shootout with police at Byron Road Apartments, near the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center, according to Richland County Coroner Garry Watts.
Just before 12 p.m., Columbia officers were working with U.S. marshals and S.C. Law Enforcement Division agents to serve an arrest warrant on James at an apartment complex, Lott said. As officers approached the suspect, officials said he began to shoot at them. Officers returned fire, striking the suspect, Lott said.
During the gunfight, Lott said officers reported hearing a single gunshot after the James entered his vehicle. He was transported to Palmetto Health Richland but died, Lt. Curtis Wilson of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.
Erika Jackson, 34, was in her apartment in building 313 when the shooting happened. She says she watched from an upstairs window.
“I didn’t know anything was going on until I heard the shots,” Jackson said. “So I looked, and I could see they had the street blocked off ... and there was a police officer with his gun drawn, and another officer with his K-9, and they were yelling, ‘Get on the ground.’”
Jackson said she didn’t see much of the action until James was on the ground, at which point she could see paramedics trying to revive him.
The Coroner’s Office is still examining the case, but the coroner is ruling the manner of James’ death as suicide at this time, Watts said.
Lott said James was a suspect in the Oct. 6, 2014, shooting death of his ex-girlfriend in Houston. However investigators are still unclear as to why James was in Columbia.