Deputies ambushed after false 9-1-1 call, shots fired

A sheriff in South Carolina says three deputies were shot when they were ambushed on Wednesday. (Source: WIS)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 7:56 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 4:28 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Sheriff Leon Lott said of Wednesday morning’s incident, “This was an ambush.”

Deputies were called to the Carriage Oaks neighborhood by a man Lott said was found dead with tactical gear and an assault rifle. The 25-year-old man allegedly told dispatchers he’d heard a woman screaming for help in two separate calls at around 5:30 a.m.

When three deputies arrived at the scene they went to the address said by the caller and were answered by a woman. Lott said she told deputies that nothing was wrong.

As they were leaving, Deputy Joseph Shannonhouse was the first to get in to his vehicle. Lott said as he was driving away shots rang out. One round went through the passenger window and hit the dashboard.

Shannonhouse had shattered glass hit his eyes and face. He was able get his vehicle into a u-turn to pull away. Lott said more than 15 shots were fired. The deputies called for assistance.

When help arrived, an investigation found a dead man in the house next door. Lott said it is believed that he committed suicide, the deputies at the scene never returned fire and didn’t see their attacker at the time.

Lott identified the man as Frederic Westfall. Westfall’s parents were at home at the time of the shooting. Lott called the attack, “An ambush to kill cops.” Currently investigators do not have a motive and there is no indicators of previous encounters with law enforcement.

Shannonhouse was treated at an area hospital. Lott said, “his eyes will be okay.” Shannonhouse has been with the department since September 2021.

It is not currently known if the weapon used during the attack was legally purchased.

Lott said, “We are very lucky we didn’t have an officer killed in an ambush like the incidents that happened in Spartanburg and Cayce.”

He continued, “These deputies have a dangerous job and I am thankful that he was able to go home to his family this morning.”

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A man was found dead and deputies with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department were allegedly shot at while responding to a call for help.

The incident happened Wednesday morning in the Carriage Oaks subdivision, according to officials.

While clearing the scene, someone began shooting at deputies, according to officials. Several bullets struck the vehicle and the glass from the car injured a deputy.

Deputies did not return fire as they could not tell where the gunfire originated from. After searching the area, a dead male was found outside of a neighboring house.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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