GREENVILLE, S.C. — A gunman who authorities said fired on a South Carolina police officer checking on a suspicious license plate and caused 10 schools to go on lockdown was arrested Friday.
Patrick Dean Lowrance was found in a Greenville apartment. He was shot in the shoulder when the officer fired back and was taken to the hospital for treatment, Greenville County deputies said.
The shooting happened around 10 a.m. at a different apartment complex, Greenville police spokeswoman Alia Urps said.
After being shot, the suspect ran into nearby woods. Several dozen officers who happened to be in a training session nearby rushed to help search, along with teams of dogs, authorities said.
The search went on for more than three hours before investigators determined Lowrance got someone to pick him up. The schools reopened their doors before dismissal.
Authorities did not say what hospital Lowrance was taken to. They did not know if he had an attorney.
The shooting happened after an officer checking license plates in a hotel parking lot found that a plate on a GMC Yukon was listed for a Honda, Urps said. When the officer went inside the hotel to inquire about the driver, the suspect drove off in the SUV.
The officer got into her patrol car and tried to pull the suspect over on Interstate 85, but he sped up, and she abandoned the chase, Urps said.
"We do not pursue for minor traffic infractions, and at that point, that's all that we had," she said.
Another officer found the vehicle in an apartment parking lot, and as she approached the building, the suspect shot at her, police said.
The SUV was stolen in a carjacking three weeks ago in a motel parking lot in Spartanburg, a city about 30 miles east, police said.
Lowrance, 25, was wanted on four counts of attempted murder and other charges after he tried to rob a fast-food restaurant in Greenville last Sunday, authorities said.
Investigators said Lowrance came into the restaurant after closing time and demanded three workers to open the safe. The employees told him only the manager had the combination and she was outside.
The gunman forced the workers outside, where the manager was in her car, trying to drive off. The suspect fired at the car, then demanded that the employees go back inside. But they told him the door locked behind them automatically and Lowrance fired his gun again at them as they ran away. No one was injured, authorities said.
After Friday's shooting, four public schools, three private schools, two colleges and a special education center were placed on lockdown.
Schools were locked down in several directions because officers weren't sure where the suspect went.
"This is not around the corner from a school. I don't want to give you that impression. This is several miles from any of our schools," Oby Lyles, spokesman for Greenville County school district, told The Associated Press. "Everybody's fine."
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Copyright 2011 Associated Press