In its nearly two hundred year existence the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has paid the ultimate sacrifice on several occasions. The previous decade has been the most violent in the history of the Office but these Sheriff's Deputies have only been wounded during these incidents.
In July 1996, Deputy Sheriffs received a call for service concerning an individual who was driving recklessly in a small mobile home park on US 21 in northern Beaufort County. Upon their arrival at the park, the suspect had parked the car but picked up a shotgun from his mobile home. He began shooting at the arriving officers. Deputy Sheriff David Kistler was wounded by the suspect. A member of the Port Royal Police Department, Officer Steve McGregor, was on his way to work and was passing the location. He stopped to lend his assistance and was also wounded in the gunfire. The suspect subsequently surrendered but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. He later committed suicide.
In January 1998, Deputy Sheriff Jason Covington was shot and wounded while pursuing an armed robbery suspect. The Taco Bell Restaurant on Hilton Head Island had been robbed near closing time by three suspects. As officers arrived on the scene, they spotted a suspicious vehicle fleeing the scene. An attempt to stop the vehicle resulted in a high speed pursuit that ended behind the Hilton Head High School. The suspects fled in various directions on foot. Deputy Covington responded along with his K9 partner, Arno. Together they tracked one of the suspects into the housing area of Hilton Head Plantation. As Covington and Arno passed the pump-house to a residential swimming pool, the suspect, who was hiding behind the structure, stood and opened fire with an automatic assault weapon. Both Covington and Arno were wounded. Covington returned fire and wounded his attacker. Other officers arrived moments later and took the wounded suspect into custody. Covington and Arno were taken for medical treatment. Both recovered and returned to duty.
On August 1, 1999, a Port Royal Police Officer, Sergeant John Griffith, was ambushed at Sutcliffe Mobile Home Park while on patrol by an individual who had claimed to be harassed by the Port Royal PD. The suspect's girlfriend flagged down Griffith to get him stopped. Griffith was then shot while still seated in his patrol car by the suspect who was hiding inside a mobile home and wielding a high-powered hunting rifle. Griffith, although severely wounded, was able to drive his patrol car out of the line of fire and radio for help. The suspect then shot the next three officers to arrive at the scene before he could be brought to bay by additional responding officers. Of the three additional officers wounded, two belonged to the City of Beaufort Police Department and the fourth was from Port Royal. Sheriff's Deputies were quick to respond into the Town of Port Royal and helped bring the situation under control, with Deputy Grant Hall risking his life to rescue one of the wounded officers while under fire. The suspect committed suicide rather than surrender.
In June 2015, the BCSO SWAT team was serving a Federal Search Warrant for the DEA in Royal Pines. After entry was made into the residence, SWAT team members encountered a locked bedroom door. Team members breached the door open and immediately received gunfire from inside the room. The shots just missed one team member's head but one bullet struck Sgt. Mark Cobb in the upper left arm. Additional SWAT officers responded to the bedroom and the suspect, who was the target of the investigation, eventually surrendered and was taken into custody. Sgt. Cobb returned to full duty.
These officers all survived and returned to their duties. But not all officers of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office have been as fortunate.