A somber public has reacted to the death late Wednesday of York County Sheriff’s Officer Mike Doty, one of four officers shot by a domestic violence suspect early this week.
Myra McCants, mother of the last York County deputy to be killed on duty in 1992, wept as she heard the news. Her son, sheriff’s deputy James Brent McCants, was killed by two men during a traffic stop outside Rock Hill in 1992.
“When you have a person in your family in the police, the police become your family,” she said. “That stays with you all your life. This officer who has died is my family, my son. I cry for his family. I ache for them. My heart is broken.”
Doty died a day after he was shot in what police said was an ambush by a suspect outside York.
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Three other officers, Sgt. Randy Clinton and Sgt. Buddy Brown of the sheriff’s office, and Sgt. Kyle Cummings of the York Police Department, were wounded. All three remain hospitalized after surgery.
Doty, 37, a detective with the county drug unit, had been a county deputy since 2006, after starting with the York Police Department.
“For someone to shoot four police, to hurt the people who try to protect the same person who they say shot them, is the worst thing I have ever heard,” McCants said. “It is sick. What has happened in this world?”
Doty’s death remains a local, regional and national news story. More than dozen police from the sheriff’s office, other police and first responder agencies and support groups waved flags honoring Doty Thursday morning on the Sutton Road bridge over Interstate 77 in York County.
Kelly and Mitch Morgan of the group Steel Patriots, that supports first responders, said Doty was “an American hero.”
“Officer Doty gave his life for the people of this country,” Kelly Morgan said.
Local school districts, including Rock Hill, Clover and York, also posted their condolences on social media.
“Our entire Rock Hill Schools family expresses condolences to the entire York County Sheriff’s Office family and the family and friends of Sgt. Mike Doty,” reads a statement posted Wednesday to the Rock Hill School’s Facebook page. “Thank you, sir, for your service to your community and for protecting everyone around you.”
The York school district posted this statement on Facebook Wednesday: “Our community joins the York County Sheriff’s Office in mourning the loss of Detective Michael R. Doty and thank him for his service. Please take a moment this evening to keep him, his family, and his fellow officers in your prayers.”
Learn more about the shooting of four York County law enforcement officers with this interactive graphic:
York Mayor Eddie Lee ordered that the city’s flags also be lowered. Other places also lowered flags, including the city of Tega Cay.
“All of the people of York, and York County, stand together to honor the sacrifice of Mike Doty,” Lee said. “We also honor the three officers who were injured.”
Flags at the Statehouse in Columbia, and around the state, have been lowered to half staff to honor Doty, said Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill and house majority leader.
Members of the York County Legislative Delegation, led by Rep. Bruce Bryant, the former York County Sheriff who hired Doty, are working on a resolution to honor Doty, Simrill said.
The House of Representatives will hold a moment of silence and prayer in Doty’s honor before the house starts its session Tuesday, Simrill said.
“Mike Doty gave his life protecting the people of South Carolina and York County,” Simrill said. “We in the delegation have received an unbelievable outpouring of support from around the state and country from people who want to honor him.”
The suspect, Christian Thomas McCall, 47, was shot by police during the gunfight and is hospitalized at Carolinas Medical Center Charlotte. McCall is expected to survive.
Police are expected to seek murder warrants against McCall for Doty’s death, and attempted murder and other charges in connection with the three wounded officers, prosecutors said. McCall also is expected to face domestic violence charges in connection with an assault on his wife, which led to the original 911 call for help, police said.
Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said the evidence shows probable cause to charge McCall with the attempted murders, and the same evidence would be considered in any charge related to Doty’s death.
Simrill said he would “absolutely” support a capital punishment prosecution, if Brackett makes that decision.
“Officer Mike Doty, sworn to protect the public of South Carolina, received the death penalty when he was shot and killed,” Simrill said.
Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, former 16th Circuit Solicitor, was solicitor when he prosecuted Mar-Reece Hughes and Eric Forney in the 1992 death of Brent McCants.
“My office prosecuted the case when Brent McCants was ambushed and killed, and we sought the death penalty for that crime,” Pope said.
Funeral arrangements for Mike Doty have not been set.