York deputy shot at twice; ex-con out on bond arrested

Herald columnistJune 11, 2013 

— While most of the world was at home Sunday night, officials say, an ex-con took a couple of shots at a York County sheriff’s deputy.

The shooting came after the 23-year-old suspect – only recently released from prison, then arrested and released on bond – had punched another man and threatened him with a gun.

Fortunately, Deputy Tony Bolin was not injured.

Still, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant was irate Tuesday that a felon on probation was free pending trial to shoot at one of his officers who was trying to protect the public.

“It makes absolutely no sense that a person like this, with that record, should be out on bond after what he has been convicted of and accused of,” Bryant said. “And now he tried to kill one of my guys.”

Johnny Michael Benfield – who has been getting arrested since he was 16 – fled from officers responding to reports of an assault on Blue Cedar Road near Sharon, then kicked in the door of a nearby home and accused the homeowner of calling the police, according to police reports.

Benfield fled and was spotted on nearby Sutton Springs Road by Deputy Bolin. Benfield took two shots at the deputy before breaking into the first home where the assault took place, police said.

Only after SWAT officers showed up and charged through the door was Benfield arrested.

He is charged with burglary, pointing and presenting a firearm, and two drug charges. He was given a $72,000 bond late Tuesday, but that likely will be moot as other charges – including assault on a police officer with intent to kill – are pending, according to deputies and jail records.

“This man took a shot at one of my guys, and there is nothing more serious than that,” Bryant said. “My officers did a heckuva job in a tough situation, after this guy tried to take the life of one of their own.”

Yet even more frustrating to the cops who face these felons carrying guns, is that Benfield was out on bond on felony drug charges from Lexington County when Sunday’s crime happened, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.

Benfield was charged in January on two drug felonies, then bonded out on $25,000 bond four days later, Lexington officials said.

Worse, Benfield is on probation for a felony drug conviction, according to state probation officials. He was sentenced in 2011 to two years in prison but was released in June 2012.

His arrest record dates back to 2006, with convictions starting in 2009, State Law Enforcement Division records show.

Bolin was not the only police officer threatened Sunday.

In Rock Hill, two female officers responding to a woman’s cries for help were told by the woman that the suspect threatened to “put a bullet to the officers head.”

The suspect threatened the officers so seriously that one had to draw her weapon to protect herself and the victim.

The families of these police officers spend nights, weekends and holidays in fear that each shift will be the last.

Just three years ago officers Trista Baird and Will Reap were shot during a drug arrest. Both survived.

Some don’t.

“I think about it every day of my life,” said Myra McCants, the daughter of a cop and the mother of a cop.

McCants’ son, York County sheriff’s deputy Brent McCants, was killed by two career criminals in 1992 after a traffic stop on Dave Lyle Boulevard.

“People have no idea what the families think about, the worry, and that those policemen go to work every day and the person they meet might try to kill them,” McCants said Tuesday.

Johnny Michael Benfield, on probation and out on bond, convicted felon, no business near a gun, met those officers Sunday night. His response, they say, was try to run and when that did not work, to shoot to kill.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065 •  adys@heraldonline.com

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