An Horry County police officer who shot a suspect last week said the man was grappling with a woman over a handgun and he feared the woman’s life was at risk, according to details released Monday by police.
“I recall the fear in the victim’s eyes accompanied by her screams as she struggled with the white male trying to prevent him from shooting her,” Officer Richard Crouse said in the narrative.
Brian Stortzum, 32, died after being shot by an Horry County police officer. Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said the cause of Stortzum’s death is pending due to the ongoing investigation.
Crouse was closest to the scene Thursday night when dispatchers called about a man inside 630 East Flintlake Court threatening his family with a gun, according to Lt. Raul Denis with Horry County Police.
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On his way to the domestic Crouse asked dispatch several questions – including whether there was a gun and if children were present – before he entered Flintlake Apartments, according to the officer’s detailed narrative.
When Crouse arrived on the scene he noticed several people in the vicinity and standing on neighboring balconies, the narrative said.
“I recall hearing screams and thinking the scene was chaotic,” Crouse said in the narrative.
When Crouse stepped out of his patrol car his glasses fogged, and while he was waiting for his glasses to clear a loud voice behind him said “Get in there, he is going to kill her,” according to the narrative.
Crouse approached the townhouse and a young woman pointed to an open door. He heard “Screams and loud voices from different areas.”
Crouse noticed a white male – Stortzum – and white female struggling over a handgun held by the male on the third or fourth step entering the townhouse, the narrative said.
Stortzum looked at Crouse and said “You come in here or any closer and it will be a bad day for her.” Stortzum was able to cant the gun toward the female while he was talking to Crouse, according to the narrative.
Stortzum was screaming at the female while wrestling with the gun and appeared “very agitated and very angry,” Crouse said in the narrative. The female was screaming and crying.
Crouse was “fearful the white female was about to be shot and killed” as Stortzum continued to cant the gun toward her, the narrative said. Crouse fired on Stortzum, striking him “I believe,” the narrative said.
Stortzum discharged his handgun but Crouse was unsure at what point that shot was fired, the narrative said. Crouse fired on Stortzum several times and he fell to the bottom of the entry way, the narrative said.
A supplemental police report from an assisting officer said Crouse fired three times. Crouse yelled for Stortzum to show his hands when Stortzum fell forward from his injuries while bleeding from the chest, mouth and nose, the report said.
“Crouse has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is common practice,” Denis said.
Crouse, 47, came to Horry County police from another agency and has 20 years of law enforcement experience, Denis said. He was unsure if the officer had ever been involved in a shooting incident before Thursday night.
Crouse has been with the Horry County police department for about a year, Denis said.
Denis said the man had physically assaulted his girlfriend before police arrived. The woman’s three children were in the home at the time of the incident, and officers were afraid the man would shoot their mother, authorities said.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating this incident at the request of Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes. SLED is the lead agency in the investigation.
Brittany Clark, property manager of Flintlake Apartments, did not want to comment “out of respect for the family,” she said.
The recent incident was the 17th officer-involved shooting investigated by SLED in Horry County in the last 10 years, according to SLED records.
Elizabeth Townsend contributed to this report.
Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.
BY THE NUMBERS
There have been 17 officer-involved shootings investigated by SLED in Horry County in the past 10 years:
2015 | 2
2014 | 1
2013 | 2
2012 | 1
2011 | 0
2010 | 1
2009 | 2
2008 | 1
2007 | 3
2006 | 3
2005 | 1