The violence began at about 11.40pm on Monday night, according to Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds, when police responded to a noise complaint about a large party in a vacant lot. When the officers got there, Mr Reynolds said, two shots were fired into their car.
“We’re lucky we don’t have a dead cop, or dead citizens, or dead community members,” the chief told reporters at an emotional press conference on Tuesday.
The chaos escalated from there. As one police officer bled from a shrapnel wound, two deputies from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene, and soon were also attacked by members of the crowd.
“One person swung at a deputy, striking the deputy in the face,” Andrew Knapp, a spokesperson for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, told WCBD. “The deputy was later treated for facial injuries. Another deputy was knocked to the ground by a member of the crowd. The deputy suffered cuts to the head and arm.”
Soon other violent incidents were erupting throughout the crowd, which included more than 100 people, and several cars were hit by gunfire.
“The crime scene spanned many blocks, many blocks,” Mr Reynolds said. “So we’ve been out all night.”
Ten people were hospitalised with gunshot wounds or related injuries, he added. Four of them are in critical condition, and some victims are as young as 17 years old. The two sheriff’s deputies who were allegedly assaulted have since been treated at a hospital and released.
Mr Reynolds said police would continue investigating the incident until everyone involved is held responsible.
“I want arrests in this case,” he said. “I want accountability for somebody who wanted to kill one of our cops.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Charleston’s mayor, John Tecklenburg, tied the violent incident to the larger issue of gun violence in the United States, including the recent shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m angry about it. I’m mad about it. I’m fed up,” the mayor said, his voice rising in anger. “This entire issue of gun violence has to be addressed.”