Sheriff: Suspects in officer-involved shooting are career criminals

Vanessa Jo Bapp (L), Ricky Dewayne Johnson (Berkeley County Sheriff's Office).jpg

Berkeley County Sheriff S. Duane Lewis painted a very clear picture of the two suspects who were apprehended following shots fired during a Thursday morning traffic stop: career criminals who continue to frustrate police with repeat offenses.

“We are dealing with people we know; it just continues in this kind of cycle,” Lewis said at press conference Thursday afternoon.

“It just seems like now we’re in more violent times, and everyone’s reaching for a gun," he said.

The two suspects, Ricky Dewayne Johnson, 32 and Vanessa Jo Bapp, 32, fled the scene following the 2 a.m. incident. They were both apprehended separately after an hours-long manhunt.

Highway 17A was shut down all morning and afternoon as multi-agency police officers, helicopters and a K-9 unit canvassed the area looking for them.

Bapp was arrested around 10 a.m. on Mudville Road in Cross after stealing a car and involving officers in a brief chase, Lewis said.

Johnson wasn’t so lucky; he was shot by U.S Marshals after he pulled a gun on them and they returned fire, Lewis said. It happened around 10:30 a.m.

Johnson was transported to Trident Medical Center. According to Lewis, no law enforcement officials were hurt during any of Thursday's incidents. No word from Lewis on Johnson's condition.

If (criminals) haven’t learned by now, if you pull a gun on one of my deputies, you’re gonna get shot," Lewis said. "That’s the way it is. They make that choice. We don’t make that choice for them.

Lewis said both suspects have been charged in Berkeley County with multiple offenses, including theft and drugs. Lewis said the vehicle the two were traveling in during the early morning traffic stop was a stolen vehicle.

He said he received information that Johnson was involved in a criminal gang.

“They are from (Berkeley County), however, they move around a lot, so their address one day doesn’t necessarily mean that’s their address the next day,” Lewis said.

In addition to theft and drug charges, Johnson also has a high and aggravated assault charge against him, Lewis said.

Lewis said that Bapp had previously been involved in a police chase with a deputy that extended into Orangeburg County.

When asked why they were out on the street, Lewis blamed the court system.

“Jails are overcrowded, courts are flooded (with cases), there’s not enough personnel to deal with caseloads and move people through courts,” he said.

Lewis said both suspects will get numerous additional charges against them from today’s events.

“Our (deputies) are highly-trained and they are trained for these types of situations,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately for us, it just keeps coming, it just keeps happening.”

RELATED | Suspect in custody after Berkeley County officer-involved shooting

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