LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - A chase through two counties ended with a Union County sheriff's deputy shooting a suspect in South Carolina Saturday afternoon.
Breaking. There has been an officer involved shooting in Lancaster County on Camp Creek Road. Sources say this started in Union County, NC as a chase and did not involve Lancaster deputies. Suspect injured and being airlifted now.— Greg Suskin (@GSuskinWSOC9) October 12, 2019
The incident began with a burglary call in progress just before 3 p.m. on Plyler Mill Road, south of Monroe, authorities said.
Deputies said a neighbor called 911 saying 31-year-old Joshua Thomas tried to break into a home on the street and left in a white Chevrolet Tahoe.
According to officials, when Deputy Sheriff Dakota Martinez spotted the truck heading toward him on Plyer Mill Road, Thomas drove through a nearby yard to avoid the deputy and turned on Gus Eubanks Road toward South Carolina.
Martinez followed as Thomas crossed the center line, hit two mailboxes and ran off the right shoulder several times before speeding across the state line, officials said.
Once Thomas was in Lancaster County, deputies said he stopped near Camp Creek and Plyler Mill roads, and got out to confront Martinez.
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According to officials, Martinez pleaded with Thomas to get on the ground, but he told the deputy, "You're going to have to shoot me."
When Martinez did not shoot him, authorities said Thomas returned to his car and appeared to reach for a gun.
That's when officials said Martinez fired multiple shots, hitting Thomas in the left shoulder and left ear.
"He went in his car and told him he was going to get his gun and then the officer shot him," Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said.
When Thomas didn't fall, authorities said Deputy Josh Deese, who was assisting Martinez, used a stun gun to get Thomas to the ground and handcuff him.
Thomas was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to be OK.
Officers have not said if Thomas actually had a weapon in his car, but said that he is a known burglar who they are familiar with.
"We train to safeguard the community," Cathey said. "To safeguard the people that live here. When he announces 'I'm reaching in for a gun,' that takes away all the discretion the officer has away."
Officials have not said what charges Thomas is facing at this point.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is taking over the investigation and Martinez has been assigned to administrative duties, which is standard protocol after an officer-involved shooting.
Martinez and Deese were reportedly not wearing a body camera at the time of the incident.
This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.
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