Man firing into the air causes panic on a South Carolina street and is wounded in a police shootout

Jul 18, 2023, 9:51 AM | Updated: 3:26 pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A man who fired shots into the air on a busy street in South Carolina’s capital was wounded in a shootout with police just before noon Tuesday, authorities said.

The gunman, who is a gang member on probation and can’t legally have the handgun he was firing, is expected to survive, Columbia Police Department Deputy Chief Merlon Kelly said.

An officer also was hurt. Authorities aren’t sure if he was grazed by a bullet or injured some other way, Kelly said at a news conference.

The shooting happened near a busy intersection about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the South Carolina Statehouse in downtown Columbia. Police reported wrecks as drivers tried to flee. Dozens of guests were evacuated from a nearby hotel, and cancer patients at a clinic had to remain inside behind locked doors until police said it was safe.

“He absolutely had no regard for the lives of the members of the public he was shooting at nor the officers that encountered him,” Kelly said.

Brandon Joyner, 26, is being treated at a hospital, police said.

Kelly didn’t say if police have any idea what prompted the shooting.

Columbia officers confronted the gunman just minutes after the first 911 call, and the man shot at the first officer as he got out and fired several bullets into a backup officer’s vehicle as it arrived, Kelly said.

At least one of the officers fired back, wounding the suspect, Kelly said.

Richland County deputies who rushed to the scene chased the man into nearby woods, where he was taken into custody, Kelly said.

Investigators were initially unsure whether anyone else was involved, leading to dozens of officers being called in and mass disruption in the area, Kelly said.

The shooting happened about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the Columbia airport, where Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a rally about an hour earlier.

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Man firing into the air causes panic on a South Carolina street and is wounded in a police shootout