CAYCE, S.C. — Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan gave new details on the events leading to the death of Officer Drew Barr, saying his officer was murdered by the suspect who later took his own life.
Cowan spoke Tuesday afternoon, giving his first public comments since Sunday on the killing.
Barr was killed early Sunday morning while responding to a domestic disturbance at a home on Rossmore Drive, which is about a half-mile from the 12th Street Extension in Cayce. Police say the person who killed Barr was 36-year-old Austin Henderson, who lived at the home.
"He murdered our officer and there are no if, ands, or buts about that," Cowan said.
For the first time, Cowan details the circumstances of that early morning. Cowan said at 2:48 a.m., a woman inside the home called 911 asking for help to deal with Henderson.
At 2:49 a.m., the first officer arrived. Barr arrived a short time later, and then two other officers got to the scene. Officers made contact with a man on the lawn who was a family friend, who said he left the home an earlier gathering at the friend after he got uncomfortable
Cowan said Henderson had gone to an elevated position in his home armed with a rifle, and tracked the officers with his gun. He then fired one round at Barr, striking and killing him immediately.
"He made a calculated decision to shoot at our officers," Cowan said.
Officers attempted to render aid to Barr and move him to a patrol vehicle so he could be taken to the hospital. While that was happening, another shot was fired at officers.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is investigating the incident, said Henderson then barricaded himself in the home. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to help, including negotiators with the Columbia Police Department.
Cowan said Henderson took the woman who called 911 and a young child hostage, placing them inside a closet while the situation played out. An incident report states that at one point, the man pointed the rifle at the woman.
During the standoff, police were able to get Henderson to release the two captives and efforts to get an end to the incident continued. After seven hours of negotiation, investigators say Henderson took his own life. SLED later confirmed Henderson killed himself with a firearm.
News19 requested the criminal history report from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division on Henderson. He was arrested in 2012 on a domestic violence charge and in 2015 on a DUI charge. However, in both cases, he was not convicted. The record also shows no other charges in South Carolina.
Cowan said at this point, his focus is on helping the officers in his department who are grieving and the Barr family.
Barr was 27-years-old and joined the Cayce Police Department back in 2016, when it was still the Cayce Department of Public Safety, a joint agency of fire and police services.
Cayce's Facebook page states Barr became a traffic safety officer in 2019. In 2020 he joined the K-9 until, according to Cowan. He worked with one of the department's canine officers, Molly.
Barr also worked as a volunteer firefighter with the Monetta Volunteer Fire Department, where he was a captain, according to that agency. He also was an EMT with Lexington County EMS from 2013 to 2016.
Since his death there has been an outpouring of community support. Cayce Police have given a list of ways the public can donate and support in his honor. Cowan did warn there are false GoFundMe pages set up for Barr and people should avoid those.
Cowan said they will go after anyone who tries to profit off Barr's death. "We will prosecute you," he said.
A visitation and funeral for Barr will take place Thursday, April 28 at Batesburg-Leesville High School. Barr grew up mainly in that area.