NEWBERRY — The number 1872 is one Lt. Garrett Lominack will not likely soon forget. Lominack was holding a ballistic shield when an armed suspect engaged in a standoff shot at officers. The shield Lominack was holding stopped the bullet, saving Lominack and his team from being shot.
So why 1872? It is on the plaque Lominack received Wednesday from Safariland and Lawmen’s of Columbia recognizing that his was the 1,872nd life saved by the use of ballistic armor such as vests and shields.
Safariland and Lawmen’s replaced the shield with a new one, but the old one will remain a constant reminder that law enforcement officers live with a constant threat of being injured or killed in the line of duty.
“Only by the grace of God were none of the officers or the suspect injured or killed,” Sheriff Lee Foster said. “I simply cannot say enough about the heroic actions of the deputies and investigators who handled this incident. They are to be commended for their actions and am so thankful that all returned home safely to their families.”
The incident occurred Oct. 30 when the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office responded to 169 Chaplin Park Drive about 3:30 a.m., after a woman’s mother contacted law enforcement to go and check on her daughter.
When law enforcement arrived, the victim met them at the door and they were able to escort her safely outside. She advised the deputies that her ex-boyfriend was not supposed to be at the residence because he was on a no trespass notice. He had broken into her home and was waiting on her when she got home from work. She said he was demanding that they reconcile.
The deputies went inside the residence and found the man with a .22-caliber rifle under his chin threatening to commit suicide. Deputies, investigators and members of the Critical Incident Response Team negotiated with him for about 2.5 hours and were able to get him to remove the gun from under his chin, but not surrender it. As negotiations continued, the man became increasingly hostile toward himself and officers.
CIRT officers used a bean bag round on the man and when he was staggered by the round, officers approached him with a ballistic shield. The man regained his balance and fired one shot that hit the ballistic shield and deflected away. The suspect was taken into custody after a brief struggle. No one was injured in the incident.
Foster said responding to domestic disputes are some of the most dangerous situations law enforcement officers can face. He also pointed to the specialty equipment needed to handle such situations.
“This could have had a significantly different outcome if not for the CIRT team, the less than lethal weapon, and the ballistic shield,” he said. “These are almost mandatory tools in today’s world.”