The names of the deputy and driver injured in a traffic stop shooting Friday evening near a Bluffton outlet store are expected to be released Saturday afternoon.
The investigation, according to Capt. Bob Bromage of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, is being taken over by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
When asked for the identities of the driver and deputy involved, on Saturday morning, Thom Berry, spokesman for SLED, said the department will be investigating because it was an officer-involved shooting and that the decision to release the identities of those involved is up to the Sheriff’s Office.
“We will need to interview the officer and the individual who was wounded,” Berry said.
Bromage said any criminal charges will be filed by SLED and announced by the Sheriff’s Office as well as the identities of the deputy and driver sometime on Saturday, but could not give an exact time.
According to Bromage, the deputy stopped a driver around 5:45 p.m. near the Nike Outlet store at Tanger Outlet Center 2. The male deputy who made the stop was dragged by the driver’s vehicle when the vehicle was put in reverse, Bromage said.
The driver, who also is male, was shot by the deputy, Bromage said. The deputy fired “several shots.”
The driver was flown by helicopter to Savannah for treatment. The deputy was also injured and was taken to Hilton Head Hospital for treatment and was later released.
As of 10 a.m. Saturday morning, the driver remained at a Savannah hospital, Bromage said, but he could not provide an update on the man’s condition.
A man who identified himself as the driver’s cousin stood alone at the edge of police tape Friday night in the Tanger 2 parking lot and waited for more information about what happened.
He had been called to the scene by family members who said his cousin had been shot and they weren’t sure why.
“For what?” he kept asking of the shooting. “Y’all say you want peace here. But this ain’t peace.”
An hour after the traffic stop and shooting, the outlet center was quiet. Stores had closed early and employees at some watched from darkened windows.
Witnesses to the traffic stop and shooting were interviewed by investigators inside the Nike Outlet store, which was closest to where the incident happened.
Deputies had blocked off the parking lots of Nike and the Gap, along with the road that cuts through both. A black sedan sat with its doors opened and its back driver side window shattered.
Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone arrived at the scene around 8:45 p.m. and spoke with Sheriff P.J. Tanner. The pair stood near the driver’s car where they talked with SLED investigators. Yellow markers had been placed on the ground toward the back of the car.
Employees of the Nike Outlet store began to leave the establishment around 9:30 p.m. after they were interviewed by investigators.
One witness declined to comment about the shooting and said law enforcement advised them not to speak to reporters.
Both the Sheriff’s Office and SLED said no such instructions were made to witnesses.
This is the 39th officer-involved shooting reported in South Carolina this year, according to Berry. In 2015, 48 officer-involved shootings were reported. Information about officer-involved shootings in Beaufort County was not immediately available.