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Columbia Officer Shot; Suspect With AK-47 Killed

Columbia Officer Shot; Suspect With AK-47 Killed

Officer Alexander Broder poses in a group photo of his South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy graduating class on April 1. [Columbia Police Department]

The State via YellowBrix

April 28, 2011

COLUMBIA – A Columbia police officer brand new on the job was shot – non-fatally – in the chest during a traffic stop this morning, and the suspect was killed later after firing on more officers with an AK-47 assault rifle.

Some residents were evacuated near the second shooting and bomb squads from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Columbia Police Department were deployed to the location.

The bomb squads were sent in response to “suspicious packages” in the house, SLED Director Reggie Lloyd said.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott speaking at a news conference identified the suspect as Blakely Hilton Jernigan, 22, but had little information about him.

He said police stopped Jernigan’s vehicle following a call by a concerned resident that the SUV was following the caller’s car.

“My heart goes out to the family of the young man who decided to shoot at law enforcement,” Scott said. “It’s sad either way you look at it. The Jernigan family has lost a loved one also.”

Jernigan grew up in Columbia and played soccer at A.C. Flora High School, where he was a High School Scholar and graduated in 2007. High School Scholars must maintain a 4.0 average in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs and participate in extracurricular and community activities.

He was a senior on a team that made the second round of the state Class 3A playoffs, and attended Clemson University.

Scott said he believes his officers followed correct procedures throughout the incident.

“We have to be proud of the actions of our City of Columbia police officers this morning,” he said.

The chain of events began around 4:50 a.m. at Wilmot Avenue and King Street, where officers in a patrol car, alerted to a “suspicious vehicle,” stopped a black sport utility vehicle, Columbia Police Department spokesman Brick Lewis said.


Blake Jernigan [Clemson Police]

One of the officers, identified as Alexander Broder and said by Scott to have been on the job just five days, approached the suspect vehicle. Jernigan got out and fired his weapon, then returned to the SUV and drove away. The officer was hit in the chest and knocked down, but a bullet-proof vest prevented the bullet from entering his body. He was brought to an area hospital for treatment, but his condition was not immediately available.

Scott said he has spoken with Broder and said he was “fine.” The department said he would be released from the hospital “shortly.” Broder was hired Oct. 18, 2010 and graduated from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy earlier this month.

Investigators learned the suspect was in a duplex home on the 2700 block of Blossom Street near Woodrow Street, and police set up a perimeter outside. After police made contact and began negotiating with the suspect, Jernigan came outside around 7:05 a.m.

“We had convinced and persuaded him to turn himself in,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, this individual decided to take his fate into his own hand and shot at our SWAT perimeter.”

Police returned fire and killed him.

At some point during the incident, a young woman came out of the house and was taken to an area hospital after becoming unresponsive, Scott said. Her role in the incident, if any, was not clear.

Shandon resident Crawford Cook, who lives near Hand Middle School, said a police officer told him authorities had noticed a gasoline odor near the house after the shooting and had evacuated some homes.

Cook said the shooting was disturbing in the normally quiet neighborhood of neat bungalows and big oak trees.

“I told the officer ‘We don’t need that kind of stuff in Shandon,’’ Cook said, adding that “I haven’t seen as many patrol cars, fire trucks and ambulances in one place in my life.’’

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division will investigate the incident, Lewis said.

A child development center in the area, at Shandon Presbyterian Church, was told by police to delay opening until 9 a.m. as a search for the suspect continued, according to the center office. The child care center is now operating normally.

There were no changes in schedule or drop-off procedures at nearby Hand Middle School.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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