October 28, 2011 / 4:46 PM / in 6 years

Shots fired at officer in S.C., schools locked down

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - As many as seven schools in Greenville, South Carolina were in lockdown and area residents were warned to stay inside after a suspect fired at a police officer on Friday and fled the scene, officials said.

A female police officer returned fire after being shot at by the suspect in the breezeway of an apartment building, said Greenville police spokeswoman Officer Alia Urps.

The officer was not injured.

At least one area school was in lockdown and three others were on partial lockdown following the incident, school officials said. Greenville Police Chief Terri Wilfong said she believed seven schools were locked down in early afternoon.

Before the shooting incident, police had been pursuing the suspect because the silver Yukon SUV he was driving had plates that matched a different car.

That discrepancy had been noticed when police were checking an area where stolen cars were often left. The suspect had then driven the Yukon away from that area.

The driver would not stop the Yukon, Wilfong said, so an officer in pursuit put out a general description and another officer found the car in an apartment complex near a school.

When she walked onto an apartment breezeway, “that’s when she was ambushed. A subject began shooting at her,” Wilfong said.

Police were searching a wooded area behind the complex for the shooter, described as a black male between 30 and 35 years old, dressed in gray pants and a gray shirt with long hair pulled back in a ponytail, Wilfong said.

Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper in Boston; Editing by Jerry Norton

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