Officer Greg Alia was killed in the line of duty Wednesday after being shot by a suspicious person at the Richland Mall in Forest Acres, South Carolina, Police Chief Gene Sealy said.
"What a tragic day here in Forest Acres," Sealy said at a press conference. "This morning we had one of our police officers shot and killed."
The 32-year-old officer, along with two other cops, had responded to the Richland Mall after a bank employee called in to report a suspicious person sitting in a van.
When Alia and the other cops tried to question the man, later identified as Jarvis Hall, he ran off into the mall. Alia chased after him and struggled with Hall while trying to subdue him. That's when Hall pulled out a gun and shot Alia.
The other two officers, one a rookie that Alia was training, were able to restrain Hall and place him under arrest, Sealy said. He was carrying a handgun and a knife.
Alia, who is a 7-year veteran of the Forest Acres Police Department, later died from his injuries, Sealy said.
"Our hearts are broken," Sealy said. "Forest Acres is a small community, small police department, we're one big family."
Alia leaves behind a wife and an infant son. Alia grew up in the community, graduating from Richland Northeast High School and later earned a degree from the University of South Carolina.
"He was an outstanding young man, he was an outstanding police officer," Sealy said.