Residents of a Jasper Co. neighborhood woke up to gunfire early Thanksgiving morning
One person is dead and two others are wounded after police officers responded to a “domestic” incident early Thursday morning in Ridgeland.
The incident ended after a barricade-type situation, when a SWAT team entered a trailer and found the suspect deceased from an apparent self-inflicted injury.
Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls said Thursday afternoon that the deceased is 36-year-old Jason Cribb, of Ridgeland. Sauls confirmed Cribb was the only person who died during the incident.
Sauls said Cribb died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Jasper County Sheriff Chris Malphrus confirmed Thursday night that Cribb was the suspect.
Malphrus said his deputies faced high-powered rifle fire and shotgun blasts when they responded to the incident at the 1800 block of Bees Creek Road in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning.
Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Heather Betz, 38, was wounded during the exchange, Malphrus said.
Betz has been with the Sheriff’s Office for about eight months, he said, and is a K-9 handler with the agency. She is in stable condition, according to Malphrus, but has an eye injury; she is awaiting consultation from an eye specialist ahead of surgery.
Another female was shot at some point in the incident.
Malphrus said that woman was shot between two and three times, and had wounds to the back of her head and neck, and her chest. She was in critical condition earlier Thursday morning, Malphrus said, adding that he did not know her current status.
“She’s been in surgery all day,” he said.
S.C. Law Enforcement Division spokesperson Thom Berry said his agency was notified of an officer-involved shooting shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday after Betz was wounded. He added that SLED investigators were still on site as of 2 p.m. and were working to piece together the sequence of events.
It was a jarring start to the Thanksgiving holiday in the Graham Hall community, as residents were awakened by loud bangs and, moments later, the sirens and blue lights of responding deputies and officers.
The community is close-knit and typically quiet, residents say, which made the morning’s events that much more shocking.
The wounded deputy and female victim have both since been treated in Savannah.
Chris Pideck, whose house is directly across Bees Creek Road from where the incident occurred, said he was awakened at 5:30 a.m. by a loud “BOOM!”
“And about a minute goes by and (another) BOOM!” he said.
While people hunt deer in the area, he said, he knew the noise was too loud and too close to be someone shooting at a buck.
“It sounded like a shotgun going off in my yard,” he said, “or a transformer blowing up.”
He and Matt Garbade ran downstairs and looked from their front porch as cop cars with wailing sirens and blue lights raced to the scene.
Garbade said he saw muzzle flashes across the road as officers and the suspect exchanged shots.
Sporadic gunfire ensued for what he and Pideck estimated to be 10 to 15 minutes.
“It took (officers) a while to get in the trailer (where the suspect was), is what it looked like to us,” Garbade said.
Berry said two Jasper County deputies and a Hardeeville Police Department officer initially responded to the scene.
At some point the suspect was barricaded in the trailer, Berry said, but a Jasper County SWAT team eventually entered the residence to find that person dead.
Betz was airlifted to Memorial Hospital in Savannah. While it was initially reported she had undergone surgery, Malphrus said Thursday night that doctors had decided to delay the procedure to wait for swelling around her eye to subside. She was hit by bullet fragments or a pellet from a shotgun shell near her eye, he said.
Betz could be released tomorrow, Malphrus said.
The other female victim was also airlifted to that hospital.
That woman made the initial call to 911, according to Bluffton Today.
Sauls said Cribb’s autopsy has been scheduled for Friday at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital in Charleston. He said officials could get the results from that procedure as early as tomorrow, but that they would likely also want to run a toxicology examination.
The Sheriff’s Office shut down Bees Creek Road while it investigated the incident but reopened the road around 10:45 a.m.
In a post on the office’s Facebook page, Malphrus thanked the police departments from Ridgeland and Hardeeville and the S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources “for their assistance during this incident.”
He also thanked community members who visited the scene and dropped off food for law enforcement officers who worked the scene throughout the day.
“We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from the community,” Malphrus said.
Pideck said the trailer was a rental, one that turned over every six months or so.
He said he knew who lived there but didn’t know them well.
He and Garbade said they still planned to celebrate Thanksgiving — they were set to start frying a turkey soon, they said.
“It makes you appreciate your family a little more,” Pideck said, when asked to reflect on the morning’s events.
“And want to hold them close.”