According to the sheriff, in defense of his own life, a Beaufort County deputy shot and killed a Hardeeville man after he went on a crime spree. It all started last night, when deputies say William Simmons, 36, of Hardeeville carjacked a construction worker staying at a local hotel.
As the victim was shutting off his car, Simmons demanded the car at gunpoint and told the worker to move over. Simmons dropped off the man a few miles later at Pine Arbor Road and told him he would find his car at the local Wal-Mart. After getting to safety, the man went to find to find his car but it wasn't there. Then he called police.
The crime spree then moved to the Michael's parking lot in Bluffton. That's where deputies say Simmons attempted to rob a woman at gunpoint while she was loading her packages into her vehicle. Luckily she got away unharmed.
"She came back inside the store," said Michael's employee Donna Murray. "She was panicky. She was crying. She was scared. We asked her what happened and she said she was almost robbed out in the parking lot, he held a gun at her and he asked her for money. She said she didn't have any."
Simmons fled the scene and headed out on Highway 278, and that's where Deputy Tom Junkin spotted the vehicle.
"He attempted to make a traffic stop, from there a chase pursued, a high-speed chase through Highway 278 to 170 and ended up on a road called Jasper Station," Sheriff PJ Tanner told us.
Simmons stopped there, and Junkin tried to detain him. "Resisting arrest occurred, and there was a pretty good fight between the deputy and the suspect," said Sheriff Tanner.
In fear for his own life, Junkin pulled the trigger and shot Simmons once. "All indications are that the officer did everything he was supposed to do, followed policies, procedures and statutes related," said Sheriff Tanner.
Tom Junkin did sustain some injuries to his face and head, but has been released from the hospital. He will be on administrative duties until the results from both the sheriff's office's internal investigation and that of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are complete.
This is a deputy who has received a lot of high honors and awards over the years.
Simmons had a history of criminal behavior starting in 1994, including theft, DUIs, disorderly conduct, simple assault and battery.