Deputies ambushed in Northeast Columbia subdivision

Columbia, SC (WOLO)  — Sheriff Leon Lott says deputies with Richland County Sheriff’s Department were ambushed with gunfire at around 5:30 a.m. this morning.

The ambush took place at Carriage Oaks subdivision in Northeast Columbia.

Deputies were called to the neighborhood over a possible domestic dispute. But when deputies arrived to the home, the homeowners told deputies they had no dispute and didn’t call the police.

As deputies left the home, more than fifteen shots were fired from an assault rifle in their direction–striking the deputies’ vehicles.

Sheriff Lott provided details on the ambush during a press conference at 1 p.m. today. “We’re lucky. We’re very lucky. This was an ambush. This is nothing else but an ambush to kill cops. Why? We don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever know. Probably only the dead person and the devil knows why he did what he did today,” says Sheriff Lott.

Deputies were unable to initially determine where the gunfire came from and did not return fire.

After establishing a perimeter and closing off the neighborhood, 25-year-old Frederic Westfall was found in the neighboring driveway suffering from a gunshot wound. Westfall, a resident of the home where he was found, was pronounced dead at the scene by apparent suicide.

Westfall was armed with an assault rifle and was wearing full tactical gear. It was determined that Westfall made the initial 911 calls and lured deputies to the location with the intention of ambushing them.

“There’s people in our community, and there are people throughout the United States for some reason, that just don’t like individuals who wear this badge. I don’t know why, but they shoot at cops and they take the lives of cops. And we’re lucky we didn’t lose one this morning,” says Sheriff Lott.

Deputy Joseph Shannonhouse, who joined Richland County Sheriff’s Department in September 2021, was struck in the face and eyes by glass shards but was not shot. Deputy Shannonhouse has prior military experience and served as a police officer at Fort Jackson.

“We are very lucky we didn’t have an officer killed in an ambush like the incidents that happened in Spartanburg and Cayce. It’s not because our shooter didn’t try, he certainly did. These deputies have a dangerous job and I am thankful that he was able to go home to his family this morning,” says Sheriff Lott.

Lott says the deputy’s eyesight will remain undamaged and the investigation remains ongoing.

Categories: Local News, Richland