Loftis: A Day Unlike Any Other
One deputy shot, and two suspects killed in separate incidents just hours apart. Sheriff Steve Loftis said Monday was unlike any day he's seen in his long law enforcement career.
It's been a bizarre and deadly day for the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.
"I've been with the department since 1977," Sheriff Steve Loftis said Monday. "I don't remember ever having two shootings like this in one day with officers involved…. I don't think I've ever seen a day like today."
Just hours after a deputy shot and killed an allegedly suicidal man that threatened him with a rifle, another man was shot and killed by deputies Monday afternoon after the suspect shot another deputy in the leg during a struggle.
The second incident happened around 1 p.m. at the Red Roof Inn at 2801 Laurens Road at the Interstate 85 interchange on the outskirts of Mauldin.
According to Loftis, three deputies were responding to a criminal sexual assault call at the motel when the deputies spotted 26-year-old Anthony Lamboy on the motel property. The deputies stopped Lamboy because he fit the physical description of the rape suspect, Loftis said.
While questioning the suspect and conducting a warrant search, deputies discovered Lamboy had outstanding warrants for his arrest. When the deputies attempted to arrest Lamboy, Loftis said, a violent struggle ensued.
"One deputy had his Taser out, [but] the suspect was so violent in resisting that he knocked the Taser out of the deputy's hand," Loftis said.
Next, the sheriff said, during the struggle Lamboy was able to grab a deputy's holstered gun and, while it was still holstered, point it and shoot a round into the deputy's right thigh.
"At that time, the other two deputies drew their weapons and discharged — we don't know how many rounds yet — but they did eliminate the threat the suspect was posing. The suspect is deceased and the deputy is at Greenville Memorial undergoing surgery," Loftis said
According to surgeons, the unidentified deputy is expected to survive and recover, Loftis added.
The bullet exited the back of the deputy's leg, causing a massive amount of blood loss at the scene. The quick action of another deputy, who promptly applied a tourniquet to the wounded deputy, most likely saved his colleague's life, Loftis said.
"I'm extremely proud of the deputy that assisted in saving his life," Loftis said.
Pride and thankfulness
As bad as Monday was, Loftis said he was thankful it did not turn out even worse.
"Had the other two deputies not returned fire, there's no telling how this could have ended," the sheriff added. "Because we feel certain the suspect would have continued to pull the trigger…. They acted appropriately."
Added Loftis: "We have several investigators on the scene, still collecting evidence, still talking to witnesses, trying to piece together exactly what took place."
Investigators also were still talking to the woman who made the rape call to authorities. It remained unclear whether the man that deputies killed was actually the man who allegedly sexually assaulted the woman.
According to Loftis, this has been a strange, violent day, but he said he was proud of his officers — all of them.
"This been an extremely busy day, and I'm extremely proud of them because they haven't wavered at all," Loftis said. "They've done an outstanding job.
"I want to reassure the citizens of the county that we have been able to handle both of these investigations," the sheriff added. "We have the night shift coming in a four o'clock this afternoon, because somebody has to stay on the streets to respond to calls for service. At a time like this, I'm extremely proud of every one of them, because they've done outstanding jobs."
Loftis said the day's shootings illustrate the importance of training among his officers — especially since the job of law enforcement seems to get more dangerous every day.
"They have to fall back on their training," he said. "When they approach somebody in a situation like this, or make a car stop, they're placing their lives on the line everyday. We've talked about that many, many times, because they never, ever know the type of situation or what type of person they're confronting. So that's why I'm so, so proud of each and every one of them."
Loftis said he has already talked to all of the deputies involved in today's multiple shootings.
"That's one thing I make sure that I do is to go to them as quickly as I can and reassure them, talk to them, make sure they have any questions of me," Loftis said. "That's very important. Because I think an awful lot of my people. Our people are our greatest asset, and I want to make sure they know that on a daily basis."
Despite his long tenure as sheriff and career in law enforcement, a day like today is never an easy thing to deal with, the sheriff said.
"I'm still human, even though I'm sheriff," he said. "So you can't turn that switch off, and not forget about your emotions.
"On the drive over, naturally I was worried," Loftis added. "I said a prayer for the deputy, hoping and asking God to let him be OK. After 38 years in law enforcement, you just learn to deal with it through God's help."