A police officer was fatally shot at a suburban mall near Columbia, S.C., Wednesday and police say a suspect, Jarvis Hall, is in custody.
Just before 8 a.m., two officers responded to a report of a suspicious person parked in a van outside Richland Mall in Forest Acres. When Officer Greg Alia confronted Mr. Hall, there was a struggle and he was shot, Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy said in a news conference several hours after the shooting. Mr. Alia was taken to the hospital where he later died, and no other injuries were reported.
Chief Sealy said Hall was armed with a handgun and knife at the time of the confrontation and that he was being questioned Wednesday morning but had not yet been charged.
Alia leaves behind a wife, Kassy, and a new baby boy.
“He was never confrontational, and I thought serving in the police, that’s an incredible quality to have,” Patrick Walsh of Ruston, La., Alia’s fraternity brother at the University of South Carolina, told the Associated Press. “He was never one to incite something. He was a calming influence on everybody.”
Alia’s neighbor, Joan Woodward told AP that she had known the officer since he was a baby and called him “a special human being.”
Mr. Walsh set up a GoFundMe page in support of Alia’s family, and by late Wednesday afternoon, the page had already raised more than $36,000.
It is unclear what Hall was doing in the mall parking lot, but he already had two run-ins with the law this month. One charge was for refusal to stop on police command and another charge for unlawfully carrying a weapon, resulting in a $1,120 fine instead of jail time, according to WISTV.
Sealy said Alia was a seven-year veteran of the police department in Forest Acres, a residential town he described as “a small community, a small police department, but one big family.” Alia was one of only 25 officers in the Forest Acres Police Department.
“You never once heard him complain about being a police officer,” friend Dan Witcher told The New York Daily News. “With everything happening in the news, the media – he wanted to bring his profession up another level. He really loved the community he worked in and his line of work.”
This report contains material from the Associated Press.