A police officer responding to a report of a suspicious man was fatally shot Wednesday (Sept. 30) at a suburban South Carolina mall, and police said a suspect is in custody.
Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said 32-year-old Greg Alia was one of two officers who responded just before 8 a.m. to a call about a suspicious man at the Richland Mall. The officers attempted to talk to the man, who fled on foot and ran through parts of the mall, including a Barnes and Noble bookstore, Sealy said.
Alia confronted the man, and was shot during a struggle, Sealy said. Alia died at a local hospital. No other injuries were reported.
Sealy said the suspect, who was armed at the mall with a handgun and a knife, is in custody and being questioned. Police did not detail any charges against the man and did not take questions at their news conference.
Sealy said Alia was a seven-year veteran of the department, and that his wife Kassy recently had a baby.
“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.”
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Alia is the second Forest Acres officer to be killed in the line of duty, the first since Officer Richey O’Brian Finch in February 1974.