Sheriff: 'Only the bad guy is dead'

Robbery suspect had criminal record and possible mental illness

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By Monique Williams

IRMO, RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) -- A robbery suspect gunned down by Richland County deputies had a lengthy wrap sheet and a possible history of mental illness, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. Authorities can't confirm, though, exactly what caused him to go on a massive shooting spree yesterday.

"Only the bad guy is dead," is a direct quote from Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott as he spoke to reporters today about a shootout that occurred Thursday in Irmo.

The boy of the dead suspect could be seen slumped over and covered by a blue sheet in a stolen truck.

Shocked bystanders, bullet-riddled patrol cars and empty shell casings in the middle of Broad River Road Thursday all prove how dangerous the situation had gotten.

"Our deputies stopped vehicle, and got out and issued verbal commands to the person inside the truck," said Lott. "He never responded. All of a sudden, he rolls down the window and starts shooting. We returned fire. He stopped shooting. We again issued verbal commands; he ducked down so he couldn't be seen, raised up and started shooting again. Deputies kept shooting; he ducked down again, stopped shooting, raised up and fired again."

According to the sheriff, the ordeal began with a home break-in Wednesday evening. The suspect, described only as a 34-year-old Asian male, stole a man's truck, gun and ammunition. Then, Thursday around 7:00pm, after trying to steal gas at a nearby convenience store, deputies catch up to the suspect and a chase ensues.

"He ran a car off the road that wrecked and continued up Broad River road near Fatz (Cafe)," said Lott.

Sheriff Lott claims the suspect was known to have mental issues but would not say if that was a factor in the shooting spree.

"His family had asked for our assistance, took him for a mental evaluation, but he wasn't committed."

Sheriff Lott says every bit of the shoot out was caught on video. It has not been released because it is still evidence in the case. He says based on the threat of danger, his officers were justified in the amount of force they used. They are all receiving counseling at this time and will return to work when officials deem necessary.

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