Allen Jacobs exemplified what it meant to be a community cop.
Friday nights, he played basketball with troubled youth at the Nicholtown Community Center, not far from where he was fatally shot.
He spoke at schools, delivered groceries to widows. He thought of one day becoming an FBI agent.
“Protect and serve were written into his DNA,” said Elizabeth Doss, a family friend.
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Jacobs, 28, a four-year veteran of the Greenville Police Department, was fatally shot Friday while chasing a 17-year-old suspect on Ackley Road in Nicholtown.
Deontea Mackey called his mother as police closed in, then turned the gun on himself, police said. He died of a self-inflected gunshot wound to the head at 12:38 p.m., the Coroner’s Office said.
A half mile away, Jacobs lay mortally wounded as his fellow officers attempted to perform CPR. He died 20 minutes later at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said Jacobs and his partner were on patrol when they spotted Mackey and pulled over to ask Mackey about a gun he was trying to acquire.
Mackey, who pleaded guilty to strong arm robbery last month and was sentenced to 10 years suspended to 251 days time served, wasn’t allowed to possess a weapon, according to court records and Miller.
Jacobs, the son of two Bob Jones University professors, leaves two sons, ages 5 and 6, and a pregnant wife, Meghan. They were expecting a daughter in July.
Jacobs is the first law enforcement officer killed in 2016, according to Maj. Florence McCants, spokeswoman for the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. In 2015, there were two deaths – including Forest Acres police officer Gregory Alia.
Earlier this week, hundreds gathered at Cleveland Park to heal and to mourn. A number in the crowd were officers in uniform, many representing law enforcement agencies from across the Upstate.
There were firefighters and city officials, chaplains, dispatchers. There were joggers and dog walkers.
And then there was Alice Davis.
The night before he died, Jacobs responded to a call for a disturbance. The caller was Davis, who said she was cleaning a vacant house when she was confronted by a man who wanted to talk to her employer. The man refused to leave the house, so Davis called for help, and Jacobs came to her aid.
“I never in my life met an officer who was so polite,” Davis said. “He gave me his number and told me to call him if I had to come back to the house the next day and that he would meet me there.”
At the vigil, Davis held a candle for Jacobs because, she said, “he brought some light to me.”
Miller said the vigil, which was organized by chaplains at the Greenville Police Department, was an important first step in pulling a community back together.
“But it’s going to take all of our work, all of our efforts … to make our community as safe and as strong as it can be,” the police chief said.
Greenville Mayor Knox White also spoke at the vigil and asked the crowd to pray for Jacobs’ family and for his fellow officers.
“What they do is just a reminder that they’re not like the rest of us,” White said. “We don’t go to work thinking we might not come home.”
Last weekend, at another gathering for Jacobs, flowers, balloons and hand-drawn cards covered Jacobs’ police cruiser parked in a grassy lot behind the Law Enforcement Center.
Jacobs’ mother, Tammie, said her son rose to the rank of sergeant during his 6-1/2 years in the U.S. Army and served in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Iraq War.
He was working on getting a master’s degree in business. He liked to work out, play basketball.
“He loved what he did,” Tammie Jacobs said.
Doss, whose father is the pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Travelers Rest where the Jacobs are members, said Jacobs was “adored by everyone he worked for.”
His funeral will be 11 a.m. Thursday at Timmons Arena at Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Highway, with burial to follow at Coleman Memorial Park in Travelers Rest. Mackey Mortuary is handling the funeral arrangements.
Several funds have been set up to help the slain officer’s family.
Here in the Midlands, Kassy Alia, wife of slain Forest Acres police officer Gregory Alia, urged S.C. residents last week to give to a GoFundMe page set up by Columbia’s Heroes in Blue for Jacobs’ family (www.gofundme.com/greenvillepdHIB).
“Not even six months ago, I lost my husband and the father of my child, Officer Gregory Alia of the Forest Acres Police Department.
“Within hours, Greg’s fraternity brothers and close friends, led by Patrick Walsh, who is the facilitator of this page, initiated a GoFundMe campaign to support myself and my 6-month old son, Sal.
“That page provided Sal and me with incredible financial resources which will support us the rest of our lives.
“That page facilitated offers for community support that have alleviated the pressures and strain of the aftermath of grief. That page garnered national attention and an outpouring of love and generosity that would help me continue to believe in humanity.
“Sadly, we now have the unfortunate opportunity to give back.”
Contributing: Staff reports from The State
How you can help
In addition to the GoFundMe page set up by Columbia’s Heroes in Blue for Officer Allen Jacobs’ family (www.gofundme.com/greenvillepdHIB), the Greenville Police Department suggests other ways to help the slain officer’s family:
▪ Go to a TD Bank branch and offer a deposit into the Office Allen Jacobs account.
▪ Donate to the Greenville Police Department, c/o Officer Allen Jacobs, 4 McGee St., Greenville, SC 29601