Man in custody over South Carolina mall shooting

FOREST ACRES, SC – The latest on a report of an officer-involved shooting at a South Carolina mall. All times local:

2:50 p.m.

A GoFundMe page for the officer killed in a South Carolina mall shooting has netted more than $12,000 in donations.

That was the total as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, several hours after the shooting.

Patrick Walsh of Ruston, Louisiana, started the page. Walsh says and Officer Greg Alia (A-LEE-UH) were in Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity at the University of South Carolina. Walsh described Alia as a caring soul who loved to laugh and help others.

Walsh says his friend embodied characteristics that would be helpful in law enforcement.

Walsh says: “He was never confrontational. … That’s an incredible quality to have.”

Eighty-one-year-old Joan Woodward lived next door to Alia’s parents and says she’d known him since he was a baby.

She says: “When my husband died eight years ago, he was so sweet. He came and sat with me. God always takes the angels.”

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12:25 p.m.

Police say a suspect who was armed with a handgun and a knife is in custody in the fatal shooting of an officer at South Carolina mall.

At a news conference several hours after the Wednesday shooting, Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy said the suspect is being questioned.

Police did not detail any charges against the man and did not take questions at the news conference.

The shooting occurred after police responded to a call of a suspicious person at Richland Mall in Forest Acres, near Columbia.

Sealy says Officer Greg Alia (A-LEE-UH) was killed. Sealy says Alia confronted the suspicious individual at the mall, there was a struggle, and he was shot.

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12:15 p.m.

Police say an officer has died of injuries sustained in shooting at a suburban South Carolina mall, and a suspect is in custody.

Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy said at a news conference Wednesday that the Officer Greg Alia (A-LEE-UH) had died.

Officials say the incident at Richland Mall in Forest Acres, near Columbia, began with a call of a suspicious person just before 8 a.m. Sealy says officers responded and attempted to talk to the person, who fled on foot, running through the Barnes and Noble bookstore and other parts of the mall.

Sealy says Alia confronted the individual, there was a struggle, and he was shot.

Sealy says Alia was 32 years old and a seven-year veteran of the department. Sealy says Alia and wife Cassie recently had a baby.

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11:20 a.m.

Most of a suburban South Carolina shopping mall is closed after a report of an officer-involved shooting.

Richland County Sheriff’s Maj. Chris Cowan says two Forest Acres police officers responded to a report of a suspicious person around 8 a.m. Wednesday. Cowan says during that investigation, shots were fired and one person was taken to a hospital.

Cowan says the mall will remain closed until investigators are finished. A restaurant with a separate entrance at the far end of the mall is open. Traffic is flowing smoothly in the area, and a nearby parking garage and gas station are open.

Cowan says Sheriff Leon Lott and Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy plan to meet with reporters at noon to release more details on the shooting.

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10:35 a.m.

After a report of an officer-involved shooting at a South Carolina shopping mall, traffic is flowing smoothly, the parking garage is open, and one entrance is closed by yellow crime scene tape.

The shooting was reported Wednesday morning at Richland Mall in Forest Acres, near Columbia.

About half a dozen police cars were at the scene later that morning. News reporters were being kept away from the immediate area.

The department store that anchors the mall was expected to open slightly later than usual.

Customers pulled in and out of a gas station on the corner. A restaurant at one end of the mall was open.

Nearby A.C. Flora High School was locked down briefly after the report of the shooting. The lockdown was lifted at 9 a.m.

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10:15 a.m.

Law enforcement officials are investigating a report of an officer-involved shooting at a shopping mall near Columbia, South Carolina.

Richland County Sheriff’s spokesman Chris Cowan says two Forest Acres officers were called to a report of a suspicious person at Richland Mall around 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Cowan says that during the investigation, shots were fired. Cowan didn’t say who was shot. Cowan says one person was taken to a hospital.

State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry says the agency was called shortly before 8:30 a.m. to assist. He says SLED agents and crime scene technicians were requested, and a number are at the scene.

A Columbia police spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a message.

Forest Acres is a residential town virtually surrounded by Columbia. The mall is anchored by a department store and a theater complex.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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