South Carolina

SC cop killed was ‘bravest police officer,’ 30 years on the force, and Air Force vet

Slain Florence police officer Terrence Carraway honored

Florence police officer Terrence Carraway is honored for 30 years of service with the department by Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela.
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Florence police officer Terrence Carraway is honored for 30 years of service with the department by Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela.

Terrence Carraway, the officer killed Wednesday by a shooter in Florence, S.C., was being remembered as an Air Force veteran, youth league football coach and tireless detective who had celebrated 30 years in law enforcement.

Seven South Carolina law enforcement officers were shot while serving a warrant Wednesday afternoon, including two police officers and two sheriff’s deputies, reported The State. The suspected shooter was Fred Hopkins, 74, who lived at the residence where the shootings occurred, reported WMBF.

Carraway is survived by his wife and three adult children, according to Kassy Alia, whose own husband was killed in the line of duty in 2015 and who told The State she set up a GoFundMe to support the slain officer’s family.

Carraway was an officer with the Florence Police Department, which announced in a tweet that it was hosting a public viewing for the fallen officer on Monday. A memorial service will follow at noon, officials tweeted.

WCSC reports hundreds attended a candlelight vigil for the officer Thursday night, including long-time friend Avery Hewitt who described Carraway as: “A mentor, a coach. He was a comedian, loving, you name it.”

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Florence police officers mourn at a makeshift memorial following a candlelight vigil for Sgt. Terrence Carraway who was killed in the line of duty on Wednesday. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler told media after Wednesday’s shooting that Carraway was “the bravest police officer I have ever known,” according to WLTX. “Today marks a horrible day, I lost a good friend of mine, my friend for 30 years,” he told the station.

At a news conference on Thursday, Heidler called Carraway’s death “a tragic loss” and said the shooting occurred when the officer tried to help deputies in an area outside the police department’s jurisdiction. “He was the epitome of a community police officer,” Heidler said. “This was his life, and this was what he wanted to do. Service to Florence was his passion.”

Florence County officials told TV station WPDE Carraway was pronounced dead at a hospital, and an autopsy was to be performed Thursday.

Following the autopsy, Carraway’s body was transported from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston back to Florence. Law enforcement officers in the Lowcountry shut down Interstate 26 as a motorcade of officers escorted his body, and several more, “including members of Carraway’s Air Force Reserve unit, lined the interstate to pay respects,” abcnews4.com reported.

Carraway, 52, was recently honored for 30 years of service with the police department, the Associated Press reported. He lived in Darlington, which is 11 miles northwest of Florence, reported TV station WMBF.

Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela spoke highly of Carraway’s character at Thursday’s news conference, praising the slain officer’s unique temperament, determination and humility.

“He had the ability to bring a sense of order and peacefulness to the most difficult of situations,” Wukela said. “That made him a great cop. That made him a great person.”

Officials with the Florence Police told McClatchy that Carraway also worked for years with the department’s Police Athletic League youth program, where he served as a coach for multiple sports and “whatever else they needed.” The program includes youth sports and fitness camps, according to the department.

“He had a passion for kids,” Heidler said at a news conference. “He was a giant of a man, but he was the proverbial gentle giant.”

Florence City Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore said Carraway helped start a camp to mentor kids, and she was wearing a T-shirt with the Camp Fever logo on it at Thursday’s news conference.

“I’m going to miss him very much so,” said Gibson-Hye Moore, who has known Carraway for 26 years. “He was just a really good man, and I feel so bad for his family.”

He was an Air Force veteran of the 315th Airlift Wing stationed out of Charleston Air Force Base, according to a Facebook post by the command. The post said Carraway retired as a technical sergeant.

Steven G. Smith said, in a comment on the Facebook post, that Carraway was an “awesome” mentor.

He worked for the Florence Police Department since he was hired nearly 31 years ago, on Oct. 28, 1987, according to the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, the Greenville News reported.

Carraway’s Facebook page shows that he loved the Oakland Raiders and was a fan of motorcycles.

The Copperheads Motorcycle Club announced late Wednesday the group would be riding in Carraway’s procession “to honor his life and sacrifice”; the group was inviting other bikers to join the procession.

Tributes started pouring in on social media with people remembering him as a beloved family man who was respected and appreciated by all.

David Stikeleather of Hickory, North Carolina, called Carraway “a true hero” in one of the many Facebook tributes that were created in Carraway’s honor.

“Terrence was a wonderful friend and very dedicated Police Officer!” posted Pam Osbourne on Facebook. “You will be missed everyday. ... Police Officers and first responders put their lives on the line everyday. Thank you for protecting all of us.”

“Please pray for the Carraway Family!” posted Surfside Beach resident Melissa Hardwick Welch, in a tribute to the officer. “Officer Carraway served his community to the fullest, his service and love for others will not go unnoticed.”

Alia, who set up GoFundMe fundraisers to support Carraway’s family and the other six officers hurt in the shooting, said she visited with Carraway’s widow and children Thursday.

“They are surrounded by a lot of love and support. ... I learned what a giver he was. He was very passionate about youth,” Alia told The State, adding Wednesday’s shooting was also the three-year anniversary of the death of her husband, Forest Acres police officer Greg Alia. “The one person you need the most is the one person you can’t be with.”

Condolences to the Florence Police included a tweet from President Donald Trump: “We are forever grateful for what our Law Enforcement Officers do.”

Evangelist Franklin Graham posted on Facebook that he was “heartbroken” for the loved ones of Carraway. “We owe our deepest gratitude to law enforcement officers who stand on the front lines every day protecting our families and communities,” Graham wrote.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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