The disabled marksman and disbarred attorney accused of ambushing law enforcement during a fatal standoff at his residence has pleaded guilty to seven felony charges – five years after firing the first round. As a result of his plea, he will no longer face the death penalty originally sought by prosecutors in connection with this case.
On October 3, 2018, Frederick T. Hopkins Jr., 79, killed two law enforcement officers and injured five others during a mass shooting at his 6,500-square foot home in Florence, South Carolina. He maintained the standoff for approximately two hours, firing at least 39 rounds from his M14 rifle before eventually surrendering.
According to incident reports, investigators with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) were executing a search warrant on Frederick’s adult son, 32-year-old Seth David Hopkins, after a 12-year-old foster child accused him of sexual assault. Investigators believed Seth was collecting intimate souvenirs from the girl and storing them inside his bedroom.
On October 12, 2023, a long-standing suppression or “gag” order expired on Frederick’s case when he pleaded guilty to every charge filed against him – two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. According to S.C. twelfth circuit solicitor Ed Clements, Hopkins accepted a bench trial in exchange for a jury trial to avoid the death penalty.
“He actually came to us and agreed to a plea deal several months back,” Clements said. “But when it came time for the hearing he wouldn’t leave his jail cell … I didn’t really think he was going to go through with it this time either. But he did and we’re thankful.”
For a better understanding of what transpired at 932 Ashton Drive on that fateful afternoon, click here for the five-year anniversary report published earlier this month.
(Click to view)
When Hopkins pleaded guilty, he reportedly told S.C. circuit court judge Eugene Griffith he was “happy to be” in circuit court and went on to once again defend his actions. He insisted that he was mentally sound to enter the guilty plea which was accepted by Griffin around 1:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
Clements said prosecutors will now seek the maximum sentence for all seven felonies which could carry two life sentences plus 150 years consecutively. Hopkins’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for noon on October 19, 2023 in Florence County Circuit Court.
We’re told at least seven victims will deliver impact statements.
“Violent offenders like Fred are sent to facilities with like-minded people,” Clements said. “And I can’t imagine how difficult it will be for a 79-year-old like him in general population. While he hasn’t been sentenced yet, we can guarantee the only way he’ll be leaving prison is in a pine box.”
Count on FITSNews to provide coverage of what is expected to be an extensive sentencing hearing for this confessed mass shooter next week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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