Officer killed in South Carolina mall shooting, police say

Credit: Google Street View via WSPA

FOREST ACRES, S.C. (AP) — A police officer responding to a report of a suspicious person was fatally shot at a suburban South Carolina mall on Wednesday, and police say a suspect is in custody.

The incident began when the report came in just before 8 a.m., Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy told reporters. Two officers responded and attempted to talk to the person, who fled on foot and ran through parts of Richland Mall, including the Barnes and Noble bookstore, officials said.

Officer Greg Alia confronted the person, there was a struggle, and he was shot, Sealy said.

He was taken to a hospital and later died, officials said. No other injuries were reported.

Sealy said a suspect is in custody and is being questioned. Sealy described the man as being armed with a handgun and a knife at the mall. Police did not detail any charges against the man and did not take questions at their news conference.

Sealy said Alia was 32 years old and a seven-year veteran of the department. He and his wife, Kassy, recently had a baby, Sealy said.

“We hope everybody prays for Greg’s family,” Sealy said. “They will need strength.”

Hours after the shooting, most of the mall — anchored by a department store, the bookstore and a theater complex — was closed. Traffic flowed and the parking garage was open, but the main entrance was closed by yellow crime scene tape. Customers pulled in and out of a gas station on the corner. A nearby high school was locked down briefly.

Forest Acres is a residential town virtually surrounded by Columbia. Sealy described it as “a small community, a small police department, but one big family.”

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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