Today in 1979, South Carolina Highway Patrolman Willie Edward Peeples was shot and killed during a high-speed pursuit. Patrolman Peeples attempted to stop a motorcyclist who was speeding near State Highway 61 and US Highway 15. After a brief pursuit, a gun battle ensued in which Patrolman Peeples was shot once in the chest and twice in the abdomen. After seven hours of surgery, Patrolman Peeples succumbed to his wounds.
The suspect was apprehended and convicted of murder. That verdict was later overturned on appeal and the suspect was set free. After being set free, he committed another violent crime and was sentenced to life in prison.
Patrolman Peeples, 28, had served with the South Carolina Highway Patrol for five years. He was survived by his wife and five children.
Willie Edward Peeples’ name has been engraved on the South Carolina Law Enforcement Memorial at the Statehouse in Columbia and at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, located on panel “18, W -16”. A plaque bearing Patrolman Peeples’ name is also displayed at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame in Columbia.