Lancaster sheriff: Shooting death justified

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comApril 24, 2014 

— A Lancaster County woman who authorities said tried to run down a deputy with a car in a residential neighborhood died Thursday morning after officers shot and killed her before her car crashed into a ditch.

Several hours after Ingrid Mayer died of a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, Sheriff Barry Faile said the shooting was “justified.”

Lancaster County Deputy Coroner Tony Broome said Mayer, 55, lived at 1102 Hampton Grace Ave., less than a mile from where she died. An autopsy is set for Friday.

Deputies were called to the 1400 block of Grace Avenue at about 7:40 a.m. after receiving a call about an “erratic driver” who was possibly drunk, Faile said. Officers made contact with the driver before the shooting happened.

Faile would not say what prompted the gunfire, only that the victim was shot and died. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident, and the three deputies who responded have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Faile would not say if the victim got out the car, or if a weapon had been recovered from the woman’s vehicle, a silver Nissan that ended up in a ditch. Investigators blocked off at least a mile of Grace Avenue on Thursday morning while SLED agents combed the scene before a wrecker crew arrived to tow the car.

Broome said “from my understanding” deputies stopped Mayer on Grace Avenue, and her license had been suspended. Deputies tried getting Mayer out the car, but she began resisting and apparently tried running a deputy over with her car. As Mayer chased the deputy, he turned and fired because he felt his “life was in danger,” Broome said.

The Sheriff’s Office would not confirm if Mayer tried running over a deputy, instead opting to release more details after the SLED investigation was finished.

Court records show that Mayer was charged with driving under the influence on Tuesday. Her blood-alcohol level, according to court records, was more than 0.16. She was released Wednesday on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Mayer’s death is the 14th officer-involved shooting reported in South Carolina this year, and the second this week, said SLED spokesman Thom Berry. On Monday, a Richland County sheriff’s deputy shot a suspect who allegedly tried hitting him with a car.

Thursday’s shooting is at least the fourth officer-involved shooting resulting in death this year, Berry said.

The last officer-involved shooting reported in Lancaster County was in November 2011 when both an officer and suspect were injured in an exchange of gunfire. In January 2011, George Randall Bowers, 56, died after a deputy shot him outside a car wash.

Deputies refused to release information about Thursday’s shooting, but residents in the area were alarmed.

Darrell Willis, who lives in a mobile home off Grace Avenue, said the incident started in his yard when the woman, whom he did not recognize, turned into his yard only to back up and apparently hit a deputy’s patrol car. The deputy’s patrol car had a “black smudge” on its front bumper, Willis said.

Willis said he heard about a traffic accident on his police scanner. He later heard two gunshots at about 7:55 a.m. and saw her car careened into a ditch.

“I don’t know if the shooting was justified or what,” he said. “I think it was uncalled for.”

Willis said he did not witness the shooting, but did see the woman slumped in her car seat. The Nissan also had a crack in the windshield. He said an investigator told him “she tried to run over a cop.”

“I didn’t see her hit him, but I did hear two shots and she died,” he said. “It’s a crying shame.”

Caroline Huffstickler and her son, Brian Huffstickler, were preparing to go to the grocery store. Caroline Huffstickler said she was washing her dishes from breakfast when she spotted a silver car going into her neighbor’s driveway. A deputy’s patrol car was behind her, she said. Next thing she knew, the car was on the other side of the road near a ditch. She did not hear any gunshots, she said.

“It’s sad; it really is,” she said. “Ain’t too much you say about it.”

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

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