Today in 1948, Charleston County Police Sergeant William Leon Gooding, 46, was shot and killed after he and his 37 year old partner arrested a man on the John Island railroad tracks who had escaped from the South Carolina state mental hospital a month earlier.
Around 6:15 pm, Sergeant Gooding and Patrolman Robert W. McNaughton arrested the escapee and they confiscated a rifle from the man. As the two officers drove tow the county police headquarters in the city police station, the suspect pulled a hidden .22 caliber pistol. Sergeant Gooding was shot in the read of the head and then Patrolman McNaughton, who was driving, was shot in the face. An unidentified person tool Sergeant Gooding to the hospital where he died around 7:02 pm. Two Charleston city police officers took Patrolman McNaughton to the hosiptal.
The 30-year-old suspect was located on a bus at the intersection of Ashley River Road and Savannah Highway. The suspect attempted to fire the pistol at the officers but was taken into cutosdy without futher injuries.
On May 20, 1948, Solicitor Gedney Howe, Jr. announced that the suspect was declared insane and was to be committed. The man had previouly been declared insane on two other occasions.
Sergeant Gooding, who was originally from Hampton County, was survived by his wife, two brothers and two sisters.
William Leon Gooding’s name has been engraved on the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at the Statehouse in Columbia and on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, located on panel 37, E -3. A plaque bearing Sergeant Gooding’s name is also displayed at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame in Columbia.