WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — West Columbia Police now say a standoff that involved a suspect shooting at officers at a hotel just off Interstate 26 has ended peacefully.
Chief Marion Boyce of the West Columbia Police Department gave an update around 8 p.m. Thursday nearly 6 1/2 hours after the situation began. He confirmed the suspect, now identified as 34-year-old Jonathan Russell Saylor, had been brought out of the hotel room and taken to the hospital for injuries. Boyce did not say how the man was injured but said he was expected to survive.
Boyce said around 1 p.m., officers were called to the Hilton Garden Inn Columbia Airport located at 110 McSwain Drive off Highway 378 for a domestic call. They spoke with a woman in the lobby who said she'd been involved in the dispute with the man, and officers then went upstairs to speak to the suspect.
They say at that point Saylor barricaded himself in the room. Boyce said they then called in their negotiators but the man would not talk to them.
"He'd answer and hang up, answer and hang up," Boyce said.
He said the Saylor then fired shots in his room, with some rounds piercing the door and going into the hallway where officers were. Boyce said he also broke a window in his room out and began firing in the direction of Highway 378.
"He had a window that overlooked the Waffle House and all of 378 and was actively shooting rounds out of that window," Boyce said.
After these shots were fired out the window, officers decided to shut down 378 to keep people traveling safe. These closures caused hour-long delays for several drivers in West Columbia, including couple Billy and Gina Tuten.
"We've been in traffic for about 30-45 minutes so far," Billy said. "I'm trying to get to a dental appointment that was scheduled for 3:30 but it's passed now, so I hope they'll still see me," Gina added.
Although roads were closed, several vehicles were shot. Chief Boyce said the man began firing at officers who were arriving. At one point, Boyce said the man fired at a SLED agent who returned fire.
A SLED robot and a drone were used to see inside the room. Around 7:20 p.m., officers made entry into the room and say they were able to resolve the situation peacefully.
Boyce was asked how many shots were fired and didn't know, but estimated he heard 15 rounds while he was out there.
The Lexington County Sheriff's Department was called in to investigate the portion of the incident where the SLED agent fired at the suspect.
Traffic was backed up on Highway 378 for hours as a result. Police were asked to stay clear of the area.,
East Point Elementary, which is near the area, was in a lockout, meaning people could not come in or out. They had paused dismissing students through the pickup line but later resumed.
This is a developing story. More information will be released as it becomes available.