A 32-year-old Forest Acres police officer was remembered as an outstanding officer and role model after he was shot and killed by a suspect at the Richland Mall Wednesday.
Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said officer Greg Alia was a graduate of Richland Northeast High School as well as the University of South Carolina.
Alia was a seven-year veteran of the Forest Acres Police Department, Sealy said, and just recently had a baby with his wife, Kassy. Alia’s parents are also residents of Forest Acres.
“What a tragic day here in Forest Acres,” Sealy said. “Our hearts are broken. Forest Acres is a small community, a small police department. We’re one big family.”
Sealy said 34-year-old Jarvis Hall, of Eastover, has been taken into custody in connection with the shooting.
Sealy said Alia and two other officers, including an officer he was training, responded to the Richland Mall just before 8 a.m. after an employee of a nearby bank reported a suspicious person in the mall’s parking lot.
When Alia and the other officer arrived, they located Hall inside of a tan van and attempted to make contact with him, but Hall fled into the mall near the Barnes & Noble bookstore, Sealy said.
Alia, who was in pursuit, got into a struggle with Hall, which is when Hall pulled out a handgun and shot Alia, Sealy said. Hall was also armed with a knife, Sealy said.
Flags outside of the Forest Acres Police Department have been lowered to half-staff following the news of Alias’ death.
“He was an outstanding young man and outstanding police officer,” Sealy said.
According to Richland County Court Records, Hall was charged with refusal to stop on police command Aug. 30. Records show he was released on a $265 personal recognizance bond the same day.
Edith Caudle, a spokeswoman for Richland School District 1 , said A.C. Flora High School, a few blocks from the mall, was briefly put on lockdown following the shooting, but the school has since resumed normal operations.
The mall is open and is moving forward with normal daily operations. However the entrance to Belk near the Barnes & Noble book store is closed.