Kids Shoot Fireworks at S.C. Police Officers

One Greenville officer shot in the chest was protected by his vest.


Officers and firefighters were called to a Greenville neighborhood on the night of July 4.

One Greenville police officer, who was shot in the chest with fireworks, is OK because he was wearing body armor, police said.

Police said they received 17 calls from the Westview public housing complex on South Textile Avenue in the late evening hours of July 4.

Firefighters were then called to the location to extinguish two Dumpster fires just after midnight on July 5, but said they were forced to “stage” at the location until police officers could return to control the large crowd of juveniles.

Police said the kids were firing off fireworks at any first responders as they arrived at the housing complex.

Sgt. Jason Rampey said the officer was sent to the apartments because kids were reportedly shooting each other with fireworks.

The responding officer was "barraged" with fireworks right when he got there, according to Rampey.

The police officer called for back-up and arrested a 15 year-old. That teenager is charged with unlawful discharge of a firework into a moving vehicle.

Rampey said it was while that arrest was being made that another person fired a canister-style firework into the officer's chest. That teen got away but could face attempted murder charges if apprehended.

"We would like to identify him and make the appropriate charges," Rampey said.

Rampey said on Tuesday that investigators at first thought some of the kids in the group had called 911 to get officers to come to the scene, but after reviewing the recordings, investigators don’t believe the juveniles made the calls.

"I don't think that the sole purpose of them discharging the fireworks was to lure an officer to that location," Rampey said. "But I think they certainly know, once they arrive, that's the general intention amongst them, collectively, is to fire, discharge the fireworks at law enforcement."

Rampey said last year, a group of teens shot fireworks into dumpsters at the same housing complex to get officers to respond to the scene.

"We are not going to accept this behavior," said Rampey.

Greenville Fire Chief Tommy McDowell said around 12:40, his crews were called to extinguish two dumpster fires at Westview.

"Even though two dumpsters were burning, we waited until police cleared the scene to put them out," McDowell told WYFF. "After what has happened in the past, we wanted to make sure conditions were safe for firefighters too."

McDowell said a few years ago in the Nicholtown community, a firefighter was hurt when someone hurled a firework at him during Independence Day festivities.

"On any other day, we would put out the dumpster fires immediately," McDowell said. "But that doesn't apply to the Fourth of July."

News 4's Sean Muserallo interviewed a teenager who saw the officer get shot.

The teen, who is not being identified because of his age, told Muserallo, "I don't know where he came out shooting at him, but the next thing I knew there was a boom. Then it comes down and explodes right there in the officer's face."

Police are still searching for the teenager who fired at the officer.

Rampey said the juveniles were shooting off fireworks without any adult supervision.

"It almost comes to a point where neglect is criminal," Rampey said. "We would urge the parents in that community ... (that) if they're going to allow their chidlren to use these fireworks, that that they supervise them."

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