The sun was still rising as police officers began to arrive at Furman University on Thursday for the funeral of a young officer who died in the line of duty last week.
Clad in dark dress uniforms, they marched steadily into Timmons Arena, joining the estimated 4,000 people who came to honor the memory of Officer Allen Jacobs.
Jacobs, 28, was shot and killed March 18 while chasing a fleeing suspect in Nicholtown — the first Greenville city police officer to die in the line of duty in two decades.
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"That moment seemed like all the air got sucked out," the Rev. Thomas King said. "Everything seemed to be put on hold."
The son of two Bob Jones University professors, Jacobs attended Bob Jones Academy and served as a sergeant in U.S. Army in the 82nd Airborne Division.
He joined the Greenville Police Department in 2011 and was a member of the SWAT and Community Response teams. He played basketball on Friday nights with local youth, visited schools to talk to students about gang violence.
Jacobs was "the kind of cop you wanted working in your community," said Sgt. Mike Yearout, who trained Jacobs when he was a new recruit.
Yearout described Jacobs as a "cop's cop," full of integrity and passionate about his job. He was driven, motivated.
"You couldn't hold him back," another officer said.
Over his policing career, Jacobs earned more than 30 training certificates, was involved in community education programs and honored with a Purple Heart for an injury he sustained while patrolling a Westside neighborhood.
But those who spoke at his funeral said Jacobs was also a kid at heart. He loved playing video games and baseball. When he smiled, "it was like he just stole a cookie, and he was 6 years old, and his mother just caught him," said police chaplain Monty Carter.
Jacobs is survived by sons Michael, 6, and Dillon, 5, and wife Meghan. They were married in the Rose Garden at Furman last June in a ceremony officiated by a police chaplain.
Following the service, eight officers carried Jacobs' coffin to Coleman Memorial Cemetery in Travelers Rest. The funeral procession stretched for miles as officers from across the state paid their respects to one of their own.
The funeral procession stretched for miles. American flags fluttered on either side of the highway, and blue balloons adorned streetlights at nearly every intersection.
At Augusta Circle Elementary School, students wore blue and formed the shape of a heart in honor of Jacobs, who was a frequent visitor.
As they stood for a picture, a third grader looked up at the sky and said: "Officer Jacobs is looking down. He sees us.”