SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Spartanburg Police Department officials said a man was taken into custody at an area Walmart Thursday after he reportedly attacked an off-duty police officer inside the store.
According to a news release, officers were called to Walmart, located at 141 Dorman Centre Drive, located within the The Dorman Centre shopping center, at around 1:30 p.m. on a call about a disturbance and a fight.
While officers were responding to the scene, the call was upgraded to an officer down call.
Police said Spartanburg County E911 said that the officer was being attacked by a suspect in the store.
“When officers arrived on scene, witnesses stated a man attacked the officer for no apparent reason. The man was brandishing a knife during the attack,” according to the release.The officer was knocked to the ground and punched several times. Citizens and employees were able to help the officer by pulling the man away. The officer was transported to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. The condition of the officer is not known at this time.”
According to the release, the off-duty officer was working security for Walmart.
After the incident, the man reportedly left the scene running across Walmart’s parking lot.
Tosha Serratos told us she was still processing what happened within the walls of the store, shortly after everything unfolded.
“All of a sudden it broke out in chaos, and screaming, and yelling and people hollering for help,” said Walmart Shopper, Tosha Serratos.
She was inside getting some school supplies for her daughter when she heard a loud announcement in the store.
“They did a code over the intercom and the workers started running to the back so we followed them straight to the back. We went all the way back to behind, where the workers would normally go,” Serratos said.
She joined the employees in the back of the store until they were given the all clear. As she made her way to the exit, she told us she noticed something covering the floor.
“There was blood,” Serratos told 7 News.
Police said the man, later identified as James Ray Cunningham, 22, of Woodruff, then got into the back of a black vehicle parked at the bottom of the parking lot.
He then tried to leave the scene, but crashed into the vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle was not injured during the crash. South Carolina Highway Patrol officials are investigating the crash.
Cunningham was arrested and taken into custody. Cunningham is being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center on charges of attempted murder, assault and battery, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
He was previously arrested in 2017 after Spartanburg County deputies said he reportedly stabbed his brother in the neck at a home on West Camelton Drive. The attempted murder charge was later dropped, according to court records.
In another case, Cunningham was charged with assault and battery after he reportedly punched his co-worker and slammed her to the floor at a McDonalds in Duncan. That case is still pending, according to court records.
A background check on Cunningham also showed that he was convicted Tuesday of assault and battery after an incident on July 1 in Horry County.
Witnesses at the scene told us that the man reportedly jumped on the officer and then stabbed the officer in the face.
“We was in the the baby department. We heard the screaming, we heard the lady that was screaming, we heard them yelling help. We heard all the commotion,” one witness said. “We heard a code go over the intercom. When the code went over the intercom, all the workers started running towards the back that was near us. So I told her, I said “grab my diaper bag,” I grabbed him and we just followed the workers to the back and we stood at the back exit … where you go out the back from the grocery aisles.”
“There’s blood everywhere,” the witness said.
One witness told us that staff and officers were still trying to get the remaining customers out of the store.
Walmart was closed temporarily due to the incident, but was later reopened just before 4:30 p.m.