Columbia, SC – The Richland County sheriff said a gunman intentionally lured deputies to his home on Wednesday morning and ambushed them when they arrived.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the incident began at about 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 3 when a man called 911 and reported that a woman was being assaulted in a home in the Carriage Oaks neighborhood located off Clemson Road, WLTX reported.
Sheriff Lott said three sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene but when they arrived, the woman in the home told them nothing was wrong, and she had “no clue” why they had been called.
The sheriff said the deputies were returning to their vehicles when the suspect opened fire on them from an unidentified location nearby, WLTX reported.
Sheriff Lott said the suspect fired at least 15 rounds at the deputies as they tried to take cover.
Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Shannonhouse was injured by shattered glass when the windows of his patrol vehicle were shot out by Westfall.
The sheriff said Deputy Shannonhouse was struck in the face and eyes with shards of glass and the bullet lodged in his dashboard WLTX reported.
He was transported to the hospital for treatment.
Deputy Joseph Shannonhouse was injured inside his vehicle when bullets struck his car, breaking the window. He was struck in the face and eyes by glass shards but was not shot. The bullet lodged into the dashboard of the vehicle. @abc_columbia pic.twitter.com/x0IB3ewkRp
— Lee Williams (@leewilliams93) August 3, 2022
The deputies called for backup and law enforcement officers from multiple agencies began responding to the scene, WLTX reported.
The sheriff said that deputies searched the area and found 25-year-old Frederic Westfall dead in the front yard of a nearby home.
He said that Westfall was wearing full tactical gear and had a semiautomatic rifle, WLTX reported.
Sheriff Lott said investigators believed that Westfall died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“They never had a chance to fire, they never saw anybody to even shoot at,” the sheriff explained. “All they knew was that bullets were flying.”
He said investigators believed that Westfall made the original 911 call to set up an ambush of the deputies, WLTX reported.
“He wasn’t there for a cup of coffee,” Sheriff Lott said. “He was there to shoot at them.”
He said Deputy Shannonhouse was expected to make a full recovery, WLTX reported.
“We were very lucky,” the sheriff added. “This was an ambush. An ambush to kill cops.”
He said that Westfall had never had any previous encounters with sheriff’s deputies, WLTX reported.