AIKEN — The shootout Tuesday night that killed Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson and sent a suspect to the hospital with a gunshot wound involved several officers who are now on desk duty pending the state’s investigation.
Two other people were questioned Tuesday night, Lt. David Turno said, but no suspects have been charged, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon. She offered no more details.
Aiken Police Chief Pete Frommer also provided little information, citing SLED’s supervision of the case. He confirmed, however, that several officers were present during the incident that resulted in Richardson’s death and the brief hospitalization of Officer Travis Griffin, whose bullet-proof vest stopped a shot to his chest.
Frommer said several officers were placed on administrative leave but declined to specify the number or identify them.
Richardson’s death in the line of duty – the fifth in city history – inspired signs of grief and respect around town. At the Aiken Public Safety Office on Laurens Street, flags flew at half-staff and several bouquets of flowers lay on its wet lawn.
Four lanes of traffic were reduced to two as officers helped guide Richardson’s friends and family across a busy highway in the 500 block of Pine Log Road, where they gathered to grieve and share memories.
Aiken Public Safety Capt. Maryann Burgess said the family has asked for privacy in their time of grief.
Signs of the shooting weren’t as evident at the crime scene at Pace’s Run Apartments off Camellia Street, but still motorists slowed and lowered their windows as they drove by the neighborhood.
Neighbors at the complex gathered outside their buildings Wednesday morning and shared details. Many didn’t know that one of the shots had killed an officer but said they feared the worst when they heard shots about 9 p.m. and saw the officer on the ground.
“It’s tragic,” said Jasmine Justice, who lives one building down from the crime scene. “They were just doing their jobs.”
Justice had been in her apartment with her children when the shots were fired. They sought the safety of the floor, she said.
For hours after the shooting, Justice said she couldn’t sleep, thinking about what had happened outside her window and that her children could have become victims.
Frommer said as many as a dozen officers were on the scene after a vehicle was pulled over at the entrance to the complex and one of the occupants opened fire. Richardson, 33, and Griffin, 28, were taken to hospitals. Richardson later died at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics of his head wound. Griffin was treated and released at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.
“He was shot square in the center of his chest,” said Frommer, adding that Griffin’s bullet-proof vest saved his life.
Because city officers were involved, SLED took over the investigation. Spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson would not discuss what led to Tuesday’s traffic stop and would not identify the suspects.
Officers returned to the shooting scene around noon Wednesday to take a second look at the apartment grounds in daylight. Sgt. Aaron Dowdy said the complex is not a problem area.
“In the past, it was a really big problem, but the calls have really been decreasing,” he said.
Neighbors who asked not to be identified said they didn’t recognize the dark vehicle inside the police tape but said they didn’t think the suspect was a neighbor.
“It didn’t involve anyone who lived here or anyone’s guest,” said Dee Moseley, the property manager for Pace’s Run Apartments.