Investigation continues into officer-involved shooting in Hardeeville

HARDEEVILLE, SC (WTOC) - New details are emerging after an officer-involved shooting took place Thursday night in Hardeeville.

In the beginning it started as a normal domestic dispute, but minutes after responding officers would have a gun pulled on them, prompting them to return fire.

It happened on Sanders Road after officers with Hardeeville Police and deputies from Jasper County responded to a domestic incident. The deputy was shot in the collarbone and hand, and the officer was shot in the arm. They fired back at the suspect, killing him.

The call came in around 6 p.m. that a woman may have gotten shot during an argument at the home on Sanders Road. When officers arrived they went inside the home to check on the victim.

That is when the suspect came out of a backroom showing a handgun and firing shots, hitting the deputy and the officer. The Hardeeville Police chief says they have their reasons for going into the home instead of waiting for other agencies to arrive.

"It's all in the difference in the time of the situation," said Chief Sam Woodward and Sheriff Chris Malphrus. "If we think someone is injured inside the house, we're going to enter, we can't wait on SWAT. We didn't know how many other people were in the house, if there were more victims, that's the reason we entered, was to make sure there weren't anymore victims, or anyone else hurt in the house."

That suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Jose Alberto Trejo. Contrary to previous beliefs that the female subject was the girlfriend or wife of Trejo, we have since learned that she was actually his mother.

Neighbors tell us the whole Trejo family lives there at the end of Sanders Road, and that Jose wasn't a full-time resident at the home, as he had just recently returned there.

"She didn't know what happened, that just one thing that she saw, she felt bad with what happened," said Macrina Hernandez, Sanders Road Resident. "When the cops came and they told her that the boy shot the cops and he died, that's when she felt bad."

A scary sight for her 13-year-old daughter who watched the scene unfold, involving a family she knows well.

"I heard a shot," said Lizbeth Mar Hernandez, Sanders Road resident. "I heard when people were screaming. I always hear shots so I didn't recognize anything happened, then more shots came, like three."

But the chaos didn't stop there.  From the window she saw the 6 cops and head the loud bumps.

Shots from Jose Trejo and officers who returned the fire.

Those who live in the area described Trejo's mother as a very nice woman who would always walk her dogs around the neighborhood. However, people say recently she kicked Jose out of the house for possible drug use. In fact, he's been arrested before for drug possession.

But many residents are still asking why.

"It's just a surprise that something like that can happen so close, it really hadn't registered yet," said Harold Wilson, Sanders Road resident. "What really happened, we hear about it so often but when it hits that close, it's hard to register and that's where we are now."

The sheriff's office and Hardeeville Police gave us a little more insight into Trejo's background.

"He has been arrested multiple times on multiple charges by Beaufort County, Jasper County, Columbia PD, and there is another out of state agency here too. His charges stem from weapons charges, DUI, trafficking drug charges, filing false police report, not convictions....charged with those in the past," said Sheriff Chris Malphrus, Jasper County Sheriff's Office.

We looked up those cases here in our area. In the gun charge in Beaufort County, he plead guilty, and for the DUI in Jasper County, the case had been disposed of after he served 30 days in jail.

This is the third officer involved shooting in the past three years in Jasper County. The sheriff says his deputy was wearing a body cam, but because of the ongoing investigation it will not be made public just yet.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is now investigating, like they do with all officer involved shootings. They will look to see if the officers are justified in their use of force.

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