A South Carolina police officer was shot and killed Wednesday after responding to a call about a suspicious person inside a shopping mall, authorities said.
The officer, Gregory Alia, was called to the Richland Mall in Forest Acres with two other officers around 8 a.m. ET after an employee of a nearby bank reported seeing a suspicious person inside a van in the mall's parking lot, Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said.
The suspect, 34-year-old Jarvis Hall, took off on foot into the mall, and the officers chased him, Sealy said. Police struggled with the suspect, who allegedly shot Alia.
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But the officers were finally able to subdue and arrest him. He was armed with a handgun and a knife at the time, Sealy said.
The police chief was visibly upset as he delivered the news of Alia's death. He said the 32-year-old grew up in the area, was a seven-year veteran of the department and was married with a new baby boy.
Alia was one of only 25 officers on the Forest Acres Police Department, NBC affiliate WIS reported. Forest Acres is a suburb of Columbia, the state capital.
"Our hearts are broken. Forest Acres is a small community, a small police department, we're one big family," Sealy said.
Hall was being questioned Wednesday morning, but had not yet been charged, The Associated Press reported.