Suspect in officer-involved shooting at SC mall charged with murder

Police Officer Greg Alia, left, was shot and killed Wednesday. Jarvis Hall, right, was arrested in the shooting. (Forest Acres Police Dept./Lexington County Sheriff's Dept.)

FOREST ACRES, S.C. (AP) — A police officer responding to a report of a suspicious person was fatally shot at a suburban South Carolina mall on Wednesday, and police say 34-year-old Jarvis Hall has been charged with murder.

An arrest warrant says Alia was shot with a .40-caliber handgun stolen in early September. Hall is also charged with possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Hall hasn't had a bond hearing and it wasn't known if he had a lawyer.

The incident began when the report came in just before 8 a.m., Forest Acres police Chief Gene Sealy told reporters. Two officers responded and attempted to talk to the person, who fled on foot and ran through parts of Richland Mall, including the Barnes and Noble bookstore, officials said.

Officer Greg Alia confronted the person, there was a struggle, and he was shot, Sealy said.

He was taken to a hospital and later died, officials said. No other injuries were reported.

Sealy said Hall was taken into custody and questioned. Sealy described the man as being armed with a handgun and a knife at the mall. 

Sealy said Alia was 32 years old and a seven-year veteran of the department. He and his wife, Kassy, recently had a baby, Sealy said.

"We hope everybody prays for Greg's family," Sealy said. "They will need strength."

Hours after the shooting, most of the mall — anchored by a department store, the bookstore and a theater complex — was closed. Traffic flowed and the parking garage was open, but the main entrance was closed by yellow crime scene tape. Customers pulled in and out of a gas station on the corner. A nearby high school was locked down briefly.

Forest Acres is a residential town virtually surrounded by Columbia. Sealy described it as "a small community, a small police department, but one big family."

A GoFundMe page for Officer Alia has netted more than $12,000 in donations. That was the total as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, several hours after the shooting.

Patrick Walsh of Ruston, Louisiana, started the page. Walsh says he and Officer Alia were in Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity at the University of South Carolina. Walsh described Alia as a caring soul who loved to laugh and help others.

Walsh says his friend embodied characteristics that would be helpful in law enforcement.

Walsh says: "He was never confrontational. ... That's an incredible quality to have."

Eighty-one-year-old Joan Woodward lived next door to Alia's parents and says she'd known him since he was a baby.

She says: "When my husband died eight years ago, he was so sweet. He came and sat with me. God always takes the angels." 

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