Man charged with attempted murder after York officer hit by car

by: Alexa Ashwell Updated:

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YORK, S.C. - An unfortunate chain of events has resulted with a York police officer injured and one man in jail on an attempted murder charge.

Police said Rodney Howell, 30, hit an officer with his car after he and his family were robbed at gunpoint in their home in York.

The family of Howell told Channel 9 he was just trying to protect his loved ones.

Investigators said police responded to the townhouse at the Forest Brook Apartments early Friday morning on reports of an armed robbery. 

Investigators said three armed men wearing masks broke into Howell's house while he was home with his girlfriend and their two children. The men pistol-whipped Howell, demanded cash and drugs and then fled, said police.

Investigators told Channel 9 when officers arrived they heard a gunshot fired by Howell.  They said after the armed robbery, Howell jumped from his window and got into his car.   

Investigators said an officer got out of his cruiser and attempted to stop Howell, who kept driving and struck the officer in the leg. The officer fired his weapon at the car.  Howell was not shot.

Howell was soon after arrested by another responding officer less than a mile from his house, at the intersection of California and Congress streets.

Howell is now facing an attempted murder charge.

"The suspect in this case had plenty of time to stop his car," said Lt. Richard Caddell, with the York Police Department.  “The officer was visible. They had their blue lights on and he intentionally drove, striking the officer with his car."

Howell's family told Channel 9 they do not agree with the charge.

"He was trying to protect his family," said Mary Roberts, who is the mother of Howell's girlfriend.  “The suspects had his son, his girlfriend and the baby.  Any man would have done the same thing."

Police would not identify the officer who was struck by the car and fired his weapon but told Channel 9 he has been with the department for approximately six months.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is joining this investigation as standard protocol because the officer fired his weapon. 
Investigators said they will interview witnesses and review footage of the incident captured on the cruiser’s dashcam.  Channel 9 requested to see the video but police said it is not yet ready to be released.

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