A South Carolina highway patrol trooper is hospitalized after he was shot by a suspect during a traffic stop in York County late Sunday, law enforcement officials said.
The suspect who shot the trooper also was injured when the trooper returned fire, according to a statement released late Sunday by S.C. Department of Public Safety.
The trooper who was injured is Paul Wise, officials said. Wise is assigned to S.C. Highway Patrol Troop Four, which serves York County, a department of public safety official said. Wise has been with the SC Highway Patrol since September 2016.
He was transported to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill and is alert and in good condition, the statement said.
S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said late Sunday that he credited the body armor vest that Wise was wearing for saving his life.
The suspect was identified by the department of public safety as Willie Bernard Wright, 27, of Gaffney, officials said. It remains unclear if Wright has been charged.
Wright also was taken to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill for injuries, public safety officials said.
The incident started around 7:45 p.m. near Mt. Gallant Road and Lexie Lane outside of Rock Hill, officials said. Wise attempted to stop Wright, who was driving a 2009 BMW, for an alleged safety belt violation, according to the statement. Wright fled and the trooper began a short pursuit, the statement said.
Wright drove south on Mount Gallant Road then turned on to India Hook Road. Wright then hit the gate at the Camp Canaan campground, officials said in the statement.
“The suspect exited the vehicle and began firing at the trooper’s vehicle,” the statement said. “The trooper returned fire, striking the suspect. Both were struck by the exchange of gunfire.”
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident, said Thom Berry, SLED spokesman.
SLED crime scene agents and detectives remained at the scene late Sunday, Berry said.
Wise was placed on administrative leave per highway patrol policy, according to SLED.
York County Sheriff’s Office deputies and other law enforcement and emergency response units also responded to the scene.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said he and his deputies are praying for Trooper Wise and are assisting both the highway patrol and SLED.
“An officer-involved shooting has occurred in York County,” Tolson said. “We ask for community support for the South Carolina Highway Patrol right now.”
The officer involved shooting is the first in York County since York County Sheriff’s Office Det. Mike Doty was killed and three other law enforcement officers wounded in a shootout with a domestic violence suspect in January 2018.
The officer involved shooting is the 24th in South Carolina in 2019, according to S.C. Department of Public Safety statistics.
Check back for updates.