‘Eerie feeling:’ York County officers remember fatal 2018 police shooting in video

Part 1 of 3: York County officers recall police shooting, manhunt in January 2018

The man hunt of a domestic violence suspect turned violent after the suspect shot four York County officers.
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The man hunt of a domestic violence suspect turned violent after the suspect shot four York County officers.

One year after the death of a York County officer, first responders are sharing their stories about the night of the “ambush” in a sheriff’s office video.

The voice of fatally shot Det. Mike Doty can be heard in the hour-long video released Tuesday morning, calling for ambulances. And deputies talk about the difficulties in trying to find the shooter amid freezing temperatures and darkness the night of Jan. 15 and early morning of Jan. 16, 2018.

Christian McCall is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty in May to murder in the death of Doty and the shootings of three officers in what police called an “ambush” attack after a domestic violence call near York.

Three officers shot that night spoke out on video, too, some for the first time publicly.

Sgt. Randy Clinton, who was the first law enforcement officer shot, said he had a bad feeling about the domestic violence call from the beginning.

“Just something about this call. It isn’t going to turn out to be good,” Clinton said.

Clinton returned to work Monday, almost a year later.

Deputy Randy Clinton was one of four officers shot on Jan. 16, 2018, outside of York, South Carolina. Three officers, including Clinton, were wounded — and Officer Mike Doty was killed. Listen to Clinton return to work on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

The other injured officers were York County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Buddy Brown and York Police Department Sgt. Kyle Cummings.

The sheriff’s office released the one-hour video on its Facebook and YouTube pages. The video is the first of three videos to be released Jan. 15, 16 and 17.

The videos feature interviews of officers and first responders at the scene that night.

York County deputy Cole Greene, who was with Clinton when he was shot, said he also had a bad feeling. He said he noticed he got ready more slowly than usual and drove to the scene slower than usual.

“Ten minutes before I got on scene, Sgt. Clinton calls me and says: ‘Hey, I got a bad feeling about this,’” Greene said. “And he’s never done that before. And it just added on top of everything that I had already felt from that night.”

Greene, Lt. Mike Ligon and Cpl. Chris Laurencio were with Clinton, and K-9 Unit dog Gabby, when Clinton was shot.

“He shot me twice and I’m disoriented,” Clinton said. “And I don’t know where anybody else is, where the other officers are at. I’ve got my gun in my hand but I don’t know where to shoot, because I didn’t see the muzzle flash.”

The officers asked for help in finding the shooter from a State Law Enforcement Division helicopter flying above with a heat-seeking camera.

“Next thing you know he opens fire again, and I started returning fire to his muzzle blast from the muzzle flash of his weapon,” Ligon said.

Greene grabbed Gabby and Ligon, and Laurencio pulled Clinton out of the woods after the shooter moved away, they said in the sheriff’s office video.

The SLED helicopter pilots stayed at the scene until they were low on fuel. They had to land because they could not get back to the airport.

“Those helicopter pilots are special human beings, to say the least,” said Cummings, who was later shot.

Greene was treated for hypothermia after he was stationed near the crime scene for almost two hours.

“When a man with 34 years of experience has an eerie feeling, you learn to trust it,” Greene said.

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Hannah Smoot reports on money and power for The Herald, covering York, Lancaster and Chester counties. She has been a reporter at The Herald since June 2017. Contact Hannah at 803-329-4068, hgsmoot@heraldonline.com or follow her on Twitter @hgsmoot.