Forest Acres officer shot, killed at Richland Mall

The fallen officer, Greg Alia.

The fallen officer, Greg Alia.

Horrible news travels so fast these days.

By the time I got a news alert from WACH telling me that a Forest Acres officer had been shot and killed at Richland Mall this morning, the flags at City Hall were already at half-mast:

And more astoundingly, my friend Mary Pat Baldauf had already contributed to a memorial fund for him:

It’s like we don’t even get a moment anymore to absorb the news, to say, “Oh, my God. How terrible…”

So consider that to have been said by me. Perhaps I’ll have more to say later.

46 thoughts on “Forest Acres officer shot, killed at Richland Mall

  1. Barry

    I guess more will come out but I was a little surprised today at the LACK of information on the suspect.

    the SC Radio News Network ran a story about how the suspect was found guilty of unlawful possession and sentenced in mid September to 30 days in jail or a fine of under $300. He didn’t pay the fine.

    So apparently he didn’t pay the fine- and obviously he didn’t go to jail either. Oh, by the way – he didn’t show up for his court date in mid September so he was sentenced in absentia.

    So apparently he just ignored the sentence of the court.

    My question to several reporters by email was – who was the judge? No response.

      1. Barry

        More info from The State Friday morning. Looks like he got a decent deal for someone that didn’t even bother to show up for his court hearing.

        On Aug. 30, CPD arrested Hall on two misdemeanor charges: the unlawful carrying of a weapon and failure to comply with the lawful order of a police officer.

        SLED records say he didn’t show up for a Sept. 16 court date, was tried in absentia and sentenced to pay a fine of $262 fine or serve 30 days in jail. SLED records don’t indicate the status of the case.

        Read more here:

  2. Doug Ross

    This is why I am glad South Carolina has the death penalty available as a punishment. These are the specific types of circumstances that warrant a punishment that fits the crime. No rehabilitation or lifelong incarceration is needed.

    1. Barry

      As someone that supports the death penalty in rare circumstances, this one would seem to be pretty obvious.

      and no- lifeline incarceration isn’t an adequate punishment. If it was adequate, we wouldn’t see so many defendants trying win that punishment as opposed to the death penalty.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, they have. I saw it on my iPhone’s News app last night. I forget what the outlet was, but it was national. All of the sources on that app are national.

      I didn’t attach much importance to seeing it, or I’d have saved it. Only reason I remember seeing it at all is that it made me think, “Here we go again, nationalizing a local story…”

      These days, I have that thought several times a day.

      Before CNN, local crime stories stayed local. But the emergence first of 24/7 news networks, and then of the Web, created a desperation for content that started elevating local news to the national, particularly if it involved violence…

        1. Doug Ross

          Yes.. isn’t it the least bit interesting though that the race of the shooter was not identified in the New Orleans paper or the Washington Post? Had the victim been black and the officer white, we definitely would know that… right?

              1. Brad Warthen

                Doug, Ferguson was ABOUT race. That’s what the demonstrators were saying, and the demonstrations drew the coverage.

                Charleston was ABOUT race — unless everything we’ve heard about Dylann Roof is wrong.

                Can you really not see the enormous qualitative difference here? When a story is about race, you mention race. When it isn’t, you don’t.

                And news media don’t determine whether it’s about race or not. The people they’re covering do.

                This is elementary, Watson.

              2. Doug Ross

                When I mentioned Charleston, it was about the cop who shot the guy in the back who was running away, not Dylan Roof’s massacre. Obviously in the latter case it was related to race.

                When a black person is shot by a white cop the media is quick to jump on the racial components. When the reverse is true in this case, it just seems interesting that race doesn’t matter. One word in a news article can’t have that much power, can it? Would we care if it said “Tall cop shoots short guy” or “Old cop shoots young woman”? It’s just a description.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yes, when there is a burning issue across the nation, with a huge protest movement that’s roiling our politics, and another incident occurs that bears on that movement (and could cause even more severe urban unrest), that is reported.

              It’s called “relevance.” It’s a factor of news judgment that is responsive to political context.

              And it’s ridiculous to act like there’s something odd or unsavory about it. The reasons why such facts would be deemed pertinent are fairly obvious to anyone with a sense not only of current context, but of our history…

              1. Barry

                I couldn’t disagree more.

                In a year where cable news and many media outlets have correctly covered black citizens dying at the hands of police officers, I think the circumstances of a black citizen killing a police officer simply doing his job demands the race of those involved be included in the news story.

              2. Brad Warthen

                Can’t imagine why. What’s the relevance? Is anyone alleging there was something racial going on here? I’ve seen absolutely nothing indicating that. So what would be the point of bringing up race when no one seems to think that has anything todo with it?

                Besides, I haven’t seen a single report on this that didn’t include photos of the cop and the suspect. Did anyone have trouble discerning their race from those pictures? No. Everyone could see that one was white and the other was black.

                Which, I suppose, is why we have a lot of white people saying, “Why aren’t you talking about their race?” Because a lot of white people want to see equivalence where there is none.

              3. Barry

                Well Brad

                When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, there was no evidence it was based on race either, but ignited a mess, and all sorts of accusations – even by media – of a racist cop bent on shooting “an unarmed black man”

                and I saw several national stories of the officer without any pictures.

              4. Doug Ross

                Barry is right – at what point was Ferguson a racially motivated situation? It was a cop responding to a situation. The media was quick to jump on the bandwagon regarding race.

                I don’t find it unsavory – I just find it interesting in that it suggests there is some concern by the media to not APPEAR to be talking about something more than the race of the shooter. A little bit of political correctness to avoid any backlash.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      It’s covered by Gawker, for one thing.
      For another, cop shot in the line of duty isn’t, unfortunately, terribly newsworthy, regardless of the color of the participants.

  3. Barry

    MSNBC didn’t mention it that I could tell after I spot checked their lead stories. However, they were very concerned about the Pope meeting Kim Davis as that story led off multiple shows yesterday even while Russia was bombing Syria.

    Of course if the reverse were true, they would – and have -devoted hours over several weeks to the subject.

    1. Phillip

      I’m trying to figure out from Doug and Barry’s comments what exactly “the reverse” of this situation is supposed to be? White criminal shoots black cop? White cop shoots black criminal instead of being shot? Black cop shoots white criminal?

      When the guy in West Columbia shot the cop last May (who fortunately was OK), I didn’t see coverage (and can’t find any in the archives) about the race of the shooter (and I frankly don’t care). When Blakely Jernigan went on his shooting rampage in Shandon a few years ago, and shot one policeman and tried to take more out in a suicidal blaze of glory, his race was not explicitly mentioned. It so happens he was white. What does any of this prove, or matter? Nothing. When cops shoot unarmed civilians, that’s more unusual, so when a bunch of those episodes happen within a fairly condensed time frame and seem to involve primarily white cops killing African-Americans, race is going to naturally emerge as part of the story.

      Is there no story tragic enough on its own that we can’t politicize it? It seems not. Sometimes all that there is is just what you see, and nothing more. A guy gone bad is out to rob a bank or store, gets found out and tries to escape another gun possession charge, fights and kills a brave police officer, who leaves behind a wife and infant who will never know his father. It’s horrible enough, and we have to just acknowledge the terribleness of it. It would have been no less horrible had the West Cola cop lost his life, or the policeman on Blossom Street who luckily was protected by his bulletproof vest. There’s no deeper racial meaning here.

      1. Doug Ross

        I just find it interesting that if the news articles used a single word, “black”, that it makes the news article political and racial. One single word. That says more about the audience. When the Charleston cop shot the guy in the back, it was obviously important to identify the race of the shooter and victim because the immediate assumption is that the cop was a racist.

      2. Barry

        The reverse in this case being- a copy shoots a black person.

        I simply find it interesting in a year where the race of everyone seems to me a MAJOR issue some people, especially cable news hosts, that a white police officer being shot and killed in Columbia, SC by a black, armed, person wasn’t mentioned at all – by those that have spend the better part of an entire year talking about every white officer that has killed a black person – and in many cases lumping all police into the matter.

        “Is there no story tragic enough on its own that we can’t politicize it?:

        Are you referring to President Obama who straight out admitted yesterday that he was politicizing the event just hours after it occurred, when many facts weren’t even known, for his purposes?

        In my case, I’m not. I’m stating an opinion. I’m not a politician. I’m not someone that tries to sway opinions other than posting mine in a few relatively obscure blogs.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          He wasn’t politicizing it “for his purposes.” He was doing it because people keep dying.

          That’s what we have politics FOR — to address problems. And this is a problem.

          I’m glad he said that. The “you’re politicizing this” ploy for dismissing an issue is ridiculous, and it should be confronted and set aside…

          1. Barry

            Sure he was- and before many facts were known like

            1) How did he obtain a gun?
            2) Did he pass a background check?
            3) What was his medical history?

            He came out repeating his prescription without knowing these details about this incident.

            That’s politicizing it for his purposes.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                Duh. Obviously Doug, we need a law against stealing things. Oh, and just in case that doesn’t work, you know – as sort of a backup – we should pass a law against murdering cops.

              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                See, that’s the problem. As I keep saying, the problem is too many guns. Doesn’t matter who buys them.

                Gun rights folks always go on about law-abiding people needing to have guns. Yeah? Well, that’s whom burglars steal guns from.

                I’m guessing that just about every gun used in a crime was once purchased by a law-abiding citizen. Might be three or four owners back, but that’s probably the case.

                As I keep saying, the problem is that too many guns EXIST. And I have NO idea how to address that, which makes me despair over the possibility of a solution.

                There’s no way that THIS country will ever address the real problem. That would require enacting every 2nd-Amendment advocate’s apocalyptic nightmare — rounding up all the guns and destroying most of them. And that would lead to civil war, because a lot of 2nd-Amendment advocates have screws loose.

                Sorry, Bryan, but a lot of them do. Enough of them to cause a bloodbath — Waco times a million.

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  Just so I’m clear, are you advocating for simply ignoring the Second Amendment and instituting full-scale gun confiscation by federal agents, or are you advocating repealing the Second Amendment before you start the confiscations?

                  If it’s the former, I hate to disappoint you, but I’ll be one of the people who won’t go gently into that good night. Along with me, will be 99% of the military, civilian law enforcement, and millions of other citizens. Who’s going to be going block-to-block, house-to-house to enact your confiscation? Every single military officer would likely resign if given such an order from the President.

                  It’s not going to be a blood-bath; it will be a non-starter. The problem you’ll have is that in your civil war scenario, the military is going to be on my side.

                2. Bryan Caskey

                  I tell you what: I would love to see the first Democratic debate with the candidates advocating for Australian-style gun confiscation, supporting abortions in the third trimester, and pushing aggressive regulations to stop climate change. That would be super.

              3. Barry

                Guns weren’t allowed anywhere on the community college campus.

                But the guy intent on killing people didn’t obey that law.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I still don’t see how that’s “for his purposes” rather than for the purposes of promoting public safety.

              I don’t see anything in it for him.

          2. Doug Ross

            Obama’s statement was inappropriate based on the content and timing. All he needed to say at the time was “We grieve for the victims and their families”. To jump on the gun control bandwagon that soon was bad form. And had he said specifically what he wants? All I hear is blah, blah, blah, need to do more, blah, blah, blah, Republicans are killing people, blah blah blah. What is Obama waiting for if he has a specific plan that will stop these tragedies? And why doesn’t he start with his hometown of Chicago and go there to address the epidemic of gun crime?

            1. Barry

              If you attempt to buy a gun as a felon in Chicago, they don’t even try to prosecute you most of the time- even though it’s against the law.

              They call it “chasing paper violations”

            1. Brad Warthen Post author


              There are a lot of people with deep-seated hostility to religion, ranging from nuts like this guy to “enlightened” bloggers on Slate and plenty of other sites that make religious people out to be hateful idiots.

              That’s definitely worth having conversations about.

  4. Phillip

    “by those that have spend the better part of an entire year talking about every white officer that has killed a black person”–simply not true. Police confront criminals of all races all the time, and often fire their weapons to kill the suspect—You can see the ongoing 2015 list here. In the vast majority of cases the individual was armed and considered an immediate threat to the officers and/or others. Those get reported locally but not nationally and we move on. Had the events of Wednesday occurred with the result that Jarvis Hall died instead, I don’t think there would be any national reporting whatsoever. There would be a routine investigation and likely the shooting would have been justified. I don’t see any great crusades out there on behalf of armed criminals.

    If you look at the chart from the Guardian, (there’s a map you can scroll over to find individual cases) you can see that in 2015 there have been at least two instances of police killing a black individual; in both cases I found, the individual was armed. I haven’t seen or heard a peep (nor should there be, really) in any national media about these cases, contrary Barry to your statement about “every white officer that has killed a black person.” No, only the cases that seemed to occur in quick succession involving unarmed individuals and questionable justification.

    1. Phillip

      I meant to say that the two instances in 2015 were specifically in South Carolina, of police killing a black person who was armed. Also I should clarify that of course not all people killed by police are, at least at the moment, “criminals” per se up to that moment. But in many cases they are presenting a threat by firing or weapons at police and/or other individuals. What’s fascinating about the Guardian’s list is that one sees that so often it’s a kind of domestic disturbance situation that police are responding to, or some outwardly mundane scenario that escalates into armed confrontation (another topic of course about how many people are armed). The scenario of bank robbers getting killed in a getaway shootout with police or similarly dramatic scenarios, are quite rare indeed in the total picture of this list.

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