KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WACH) - Kershaw County deputies are searching a wooded area in Camden for a suspect accused of opening fire on deputies Thursday evening.
The Kershaw County Sheriff's Office is looking for 25-year-old Earnest Maurice Allen, who is also known as Earnest Pickett.
Sheriff Jim Matthews says Allen was a passenger of a vehicle that was pulled over by deputies during a traffic stop. Allen produced what deputies believe to be a .38 caliber pistol and fired four rounds at deputies. According to Matthews, one deputy fired back and Allen ran into the woods near Black River and Precipice Roads.
Sheriff Matthews says no deputies were hurt in the exchange. Heâ??s not sure if the suspect was hit.
Authorities say Allen was wanted on eight counts of distribution of crack cocaine earlier this year, but fled to Miami upon hearing that he was wanted. Allen was arrested in Miami after Kershaw County authorities contacted law enforcement officials who were able to locate Allen. Allen was brought back to Kershaw County where he was released on bond. Additionally, in October 2012, authorities say a deputy conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by Allen. Allen jumped out of the vehicle while it was still moving and fled, allowing the car to crash with a woman and a child in the vehicle. Warrants were obtained for Allen for failure to stop for a blue light, child endangerment and possession of marijuana. In November 2012, a General Sessions court bench warrant was issued for Allen for Failure to Appear.
Matthews says deputies received information Allen was traveling in a minivan in the Precipice Road area in Kershaw County. When they spotted the vehicle, they initiated the traffic stop
A Kershaw County Sheriff's Office bloodhound team lead officers to the pistol that Allen dropped while fleeing, but the trail later went cold. A second team of dogs continued the search until 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
â??It is more than slightly irritating that Allen, with his extensive arrest record, who fled to Miami upon hearing that he was about to be arrested, would be given such a low bond following his capture and return to Kershaw County. Now he is running again after shooting at my deputies. I donâ??t know what it is going to take to keep these thugs in jail,â?? said Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.
In addition to an assortment of other charges, Allen is now facing additional charges of attempted murder (four counts) and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Allen is described as a light skinned black male with tattoos on both arms. He is approximately 5-feet-6-inches tall and weighs around 150 pounds.
The State Law Enforcement Division is also assisting in the investigation.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Allen should contact the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office at 803-425-1512.