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Suspect Wore Explosives During AK-47 Police Attack

Suspect Wore Explosives During AK-47 Police Attack

Blakely Hilton Jernigan credit: Clemson Police Department

The State via YellowBrix

April 29, 2011

*Editor Note: PoliceLink apologizes for the earlier confusion regarding Officer Alexander Broder’s condition. The article clearly states Officer Broder survived a shot to the chest thanks to his vest. Our thoughts go out to all those involved and are glad no officers were killed during this confrontation.

COLUMBIA, SC – Police found homemade explosives on the body of a 22-year-old Columbia man who died Wednesday after charging police with an AK-47 in Shandon.

Blakely Hilton Jernigan had built the homemade explosives out of a powder, but they were no more sophisticated than high-powered firecrackers, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott said. Investigators also found more weapons, cocaine and marijuana in Jernigan’s apartment after the hour-long standoff ended in a hail of gunfire, Scott said.

More details emerged Thursday about the standoff that resulted in police SWAT members shooting and killing Jernigan outside a rental house in the Shandon neighborhood. Police continued their investigation as they tried to piece together events that led Jernigan, a former Eagle Scout, A.C. Flora High soccer player and Clemson University student, to spiral out of control.

Jernigan faced serious criminal charges in Pickens County for drug dealing and illegally carrying a gun while at Clemson. And he was under investigation from another law enforcement agency for his drug dealing, said Walt Wilkins, the 13th Circuit solicitor. Wilkins said Thursday his office had been delaying prosecution on those 2009 weapons and drug charges so the other investigation could play out.

The bizarre chain of events that led to the shootout began at 3:40 a.m. when a man delivering The State newspaper noticed he was being followed by someone driving a black Ford Explorer. The newspaper carrier called police, who eventually stopped Jernigan at Wilmot Avenue and King Street, near Hand Middle School.

As Patrolman Alexander Broder approached Jernigan’s car, the young man fired a handgun at close range, striking Broder in the chest. Broder survived the shot because he was wearing a department-issued bullet-proof vest.

Police tracked Jernigan to his apartment in a four-unit, brick house at 2730 Blossom St., where they had an hour-long standoff as police negotiators and Jernigan’s father tried to coax him into surrendering. Police thought Jernigan had agreed to give up and expected him to exit the house from a back door, Scott said.

Instead, Jernigan stormed out of a side door – from a different apartment – with an AK-47 assault rifle. He surprised two SWAT members who were guarding that side of the house. The officers fired, striking Jernigan multiple times in his legs, abdomen and chest, said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts. Jernigan died at the scene, Watts said.


Officer Alexander Broder

Investigators found three or four homemade explosives in Jernigan’s pants pockets, Watts said. His body lay in the backyard for hours as bomb squad teams were called to disable the explosives on him and inside his apartment.

When officers entered the apartment they found Jernigan’s girlfriend passed out in the bathtub, Scott said. She had been using drugs and was taken to a Columbia hospital, he said. The woman, who is in her 20s, has not been named as police continue their investigation.

Inside the apartment, police found an amount of cocaine and marijuana large enough that they could have charged Jernigan with distribution of the drugs had he not died, police said.

Investigators also found a second AK-47, machetes and other knives with long blades, and an explosive powder that had been used to construct the homemade explosive devices, Scott said.

Jernigan also had turned on the apartment’s stove, and natural gas was filling the apartment, Scott said. That could have been a deadly situation if police had been forced to enter the apartment, the chief said. SWAT units often use stun grenades to incapacitate suspects, and one of those devices could have caused an explosion when mixed with the natural gas, Scott said.

Police still have not said exactly how Jernigan was able to get out of his apartment and break into another unit in the house. At some point during the negotiations, Jernigan had crawled around the attic, but Scott said he was not sure if Jernigan had entered the other apartment through the attic.

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  • Sfa_iv_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Bump Whalewatcher. My prayers to all.

  • 432nd_tfw_patch_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Definitely two things you don't want to see in headlines: Eagle scout and suspect. Shame this young man got into drugs, guns and a danger to society. Glad he is off the streets though. Sorry to say but I believe any criminal that is this dangerous should be eliminated. Why pay for the survival of dangerous people.

  • 17may29-just-chillin_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Fantastic work all! Nice reaction Mr. SWAT, good shootin! There is no telling what this idiot would have eventually done with all the stuff he had; no doubt in my mind that this event prevented a mush bigger/worse event on the part of this dirtbag.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Eagle Scout isn't what it used to be. Kids generally don't earn it, their parents do. I've seen way too much of these types (albeit usually not ones with the nerve to actually act out).

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Glad that the officer was wearing his vest. Drugs, guns and homemade expolsives, not a good combination.

  • Tigerstripe_002_max50


    over 3 years ago


    A) You can send a kid to college but you cannot cure him of a serious case of the stupid.
    B) This is what happens when animals are cought and released.
    C) Another delusional kid thinks hes a big time GTA drug dealer.
    D) Good reflexs Swat guys! You did good and got this murderious pair off the streets.
    E) Second rifle was probably the girls, whats her role in all this?!

  • Justified_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Insane, completely insane. And to think his girlfriend was there in the bathtub, showed he couldn't care about anyones lives at that point. Officers on scene made the best call, glad everything worked out as well as it could have given the circumstances.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Ouch. I sure hate to see anyone killed, especially younger folks. For sure it is a good thing the original officer was wearing a vest hence not seriously hurt.
    You have to wonder what caused to this guy to 'flip out' and over what length a time frame this downward trend took. Seems as though you have a pretty typical kid and then all of this! Again, Ouch!
    I can't imagine what his Dad was and is feeling. Pretty bad stuff I guess. At least only one family is grieving, as it could easily have been worse, much worse.
    My best to all involved, there will be some sleepless nights in the area for quite a while. Of course you feel terrible for the young mans’ family but we must not forget how the guy(s)/gal(s) who had to shoot feel. There are no winners here, no, none...
    Rich in New Mexico.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    DRUGS, GUNS, EXPLOSIVES AND NATURAL GAS-A recipe for disaster. I'm very glad no L.E.O.'s were hurt seriously and this kid won't contaminate society again. Hopefully, the girl will be able to give information. STAY SAFE!!

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    All the good guys are going home on this one. Godspeed for a complete and speedy recovery to Officer Broder. This Subject was not an uneducated person he thought this out and planned on taking out many LEO's. This Subject is where he needs to be.

  • 2004_0911_006__max50


    over 3 years ago


    How sad, given all the social tools to be a great citizen, thrown away for the profit from drugs. His demise was appropiate for his actions. For the suspect, I feel nothing, no loss, for his mother and father, their pain is excruciating.

    Glad to hear the officer was armored up and now is a survivor.

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 3 years ago


    A tragedy which could have turned even more deadly. On a mission to Hell. Mission Accomplished. Pray for full emotional and physical recovery for all those involved. As they say, "Minimize the Meat." (Wear your Vest).

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This kid was on a mission. I'm glad no one was killed here. Prayers for a full and speedy recovery for Officer Broder.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    over 3 years ago


    Glad the officers are OK. You just never know ........

  • Dirty_harry_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Glad all officers involved in this incident went home in one piece. If you don't wear body armor, I hope your skin is made of kevlar. I can't think of one valid reason not to wear your vest. Stay safe out there everyone.

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