Richland County, SC – The Richland County sheriff released terrifying details on Tuesday of a gunman’s careful planning and preparation ahead of his ambush on law enforcement officers.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the incident began at about 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 3 when a man called 911 twice reporting that a woman was being assaulted in a home in the Carriage Oaks neighborhood located off Clemson Road, WLTX reported.
Sheriff Lott played audio recordings of the 911 calls at a media briefing on Aug. 9, WIS reported.
The sheriff said that when three deputies arrived at the address the caller had given, the woman in the home told the deputy who went up to the door that nothing was wrong, and she had “no clue” why they had been called.
The sheriff said the deputy was returning to his vehicle when the suspect opened fire on him from an unidentified location nearby, WLTX reported.
The deputy jumped in his vehicle and quickly backed out of the “kill zone,” he said.
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 and is expected to recover from his injuries.
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 shortly after the incident. “He was there to shoot at them.”
The sheriff said investigators had determined that Westfall fired 16 rounds at the deputies, WIS reported.
Investigators said the gunman’s rifle had been modified with a sight and a drum magazine.
Police said Westfall had 13 loaded magazines of ammunition, or 470 unfired rounds, strapped to his body.
A search of the home found more than 900 rounds of ammunition and dozens more fully-loaded magazines, WIS reported.
They also found a hand-drawn map of the floorplan of his parents’ house that Westfall had carefully labeled, including trees and other obstructions outside.
It indicated four points where Westfall thought he could shoot at deputies, WIS reported.
The words “Dead Pigs” and a smiley face were written at the bottom of the map.
“His intent was to kill as many Richland County deputies as he could,” the sheriff told reporters.
Sheriff Lott said that Westfall had expected multiple officers to approach the address he’d called in all at the same time, but only one deputy went up to the door while the others stayed in their vehicles, WYFF reported.
“That disrupted the plan,” he explained.
Investigators said Westfall was a high school dropout who was rejected when he tried to join the U.S. military, WYFF reported.
He had told his parents that he was training to fight in the Ukraine and that he was buying equipment and ammunition for that country’s war against Russia, according to the authorities.
Sheriff Lott called the ambush plans made by Westfall “pure evil,” WYFF reported.
“God put his shield of armor around those three deputies,” the sheriff said.