Crime & Courts

Florence chief briefing officers on shooting to dispel rumors, not releasing details

How the Florence police shooting unfolded

Hour by hour, here is a timeline of the police shooting in Florence County, SC that left one officer dead and six more wounded.
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Hour by hour, here is a timeline of the police shooting in Florence County, SC that left one officer dead and six more wounded.

Seven law enforcement officers were shot in Florence, S.C. on Wednesday, and one of them has died.

Immediately after news broke about the deadly shooting, rumors about it began to filter on social media. Theories about the gunman’s identity, motive, background and much more were posted online, without being verified as fact.

On Thursday, the Chief of the Florence Police Department said he was going to make it clear what was a rumor and what actually happened — with one specific group. His police officers.

In a news conference, Chief Allen Heidler said he was going to make his officers aware of the actual events that occurred during Wednesday’s shooting.

“We are reaching out to all of our officers to provide not only crisis counseling, but a chief- and command-level briefing for them so we can ensure that they understand the events as they took place,” Heidler said. “That some of the things they see, maybe on social media, that we debunk the things they are hearing.”

Heidler was responding to a question about the mood of his department the day after the shooting, where four of his officers were hit from gunfire by Fred Hopkins. One of those officers, 30-year veteran Terrence Carraway was killed.

A candlelight service was held at the First Baptist Church in Florence for Sgt. Terrence Carraway who was killed in a shooting Wednesday night that left six other police officers wounded.

The chief said his officers were “obviously distraught.” He added they had “great resolve to protect this community.”

He wanted to help the department by providing the officers with crisis counselors, who have converged on Florence from across South Carolina and beyond, according to Heidler.

The chief said he also wanted to eliminate any fiction they might have come across about the shooting. He said he planned to have the officers briefed Thursday.

While Heidler is clarifying the events of the shooting, and how his officers responded, to his department, he is continuing to limit details to the media and public.

Several times during the news conference, Heidler said he was not going to comment publicly on one aspect or another about the shooting. He said he was not giving up details to ensure the investigation would not be compromised in any way.

The shooting death of a police officer and the wounding of six others in Florence Wednesday reminds York Co. officers of their own tragedy. York Co. Sheriff Kevin Tolson said the shooting is “eerily similar” to what happened in York County in Jan.

Sun News staff writer Alex Lang contributed to this report.

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