SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) – Solicitor Barry Barnette told a magistrate judge in South Carolina on Friday that he had never seen an attack like the one an off-duty officer who was working in uniform as a Walmart security guard suffered on Thursday.
Barnette's remarks came during a bond hearing for the supect: James Cunningham, 23, of Woodruff.
The solicitor played a video of the attack, which happened while the officer was standing near the self checkout area of the Dorman Center Walmart.
The video shows a man sprint toward the officer and began wailing the policeman with punches and blows.
Barnette said Cunningham also had a knife in his hand when he charged at the officer.
“He must’ve lost control of the knife and began brutally began beating the officer," Barnette told the judge
Spartanburg police said off-duty officer was taken to the hospital after being attacked. The officer was working in the store as a security guard when the attack happened at the store around 1:30 p.m.
Major Art Littlejohn said Cunningham is accused of launching the assault for no apparent reason.
Cunningham is also accused of trying to unholster the officer's weapon during the assault.
Employees and shoppers were able to pull Cunningham away from the officer and Cunningham fled the store.
Police said Cunningham was attempting to flee the scene in a black vehicle when he crashed into another car.
Barnette said Cunningham then ran from the scene of the crash and was apprehended outside the nearby Petsmart store.
Cunningham was arrested and the other driver was not hurt. His charges include:
- Attempted murder
- 3rd degree assault and battery
- Possession of a weapon during a violent crime
We spoke with Trooper Joe Hovis from South Carolina Highway Patrol, who said as of writing it's not clear if the car Cunningham got into was his own, a stolen car, or belonged to someone he knew. The getaway car was a 1999 Chevrolet that traveled east through the store's parking lot, striking a 2019 Ford entering Dorman Center from the highway.
The injured officer was taken to the hospital for treatment. Littlejohn tells us the officer is in good spirits and hoping to make a full recovery. Littlejohn also notes it's not clear if the knife actually cut the officer, but confirmed Cunningham had a knife. He also notes the city is handling any charges that could stem from the driver Cunningham crashed into when he fled from the scene.
Dozens of law enforcement vehicles rushed to the Dorman Center area around 2 p.m.
The store was closed off to customers while police were investigating. It has since re-opened.
During Cunningham's bond hearing on Friday, Barnette revealed that Cunningham was out on bond at the time of the attack for another assault case. The victim in that was was a worker at the McDonald's in Duncan.
Barnette said there is no indication the Cunningham and the officer knew one another prior to the assault.
A SLED criminal history report revealed Cunningham has previously been charged with a list of violent offenses, including felony and misdemeanor assault and battery charges, and an attempted murder charge from 2017 that resulted in a non-conviction.
The judge denied bond for Cunningham on the attempted murder and weapons charge. The suspect will remain behind bars until a General Sessions judge makes a determination on bond before trial.