Warrants: Suspect in deadly Florence airport officer shooting was found with officer’s gun

Pee Dee Crime

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – SLED released the warrants Monday evening pertaining to the charges against James Edward Bell.

The warrants state that on Sunday, Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler initiated a traffic stop on a white 2014 Chrysler 200 on the airport property. During the traffic stop, Bell shot and killed Officer Winkeler, according to warrants.

According to the warrants, when additional officers arrived, they found Winkeler’s body on the ground beside his vehicle and his service weapon was missing. Officers did find an empty 9mm handgun that did not belong to Winkeler and over 30 spent shell casings.

James Edward Bell (Courtesy: Florence County Detention Center)

Bell was found in the Chrysler by Florence County Sheriff’s deputies, according to the warrants, near Highway 52. When deputies searched Bell, they located Winkeler’s service weapon and a magazine consistent with the handgun left near Winkeler’s body.

Bell is charged with murder, discharging a firearm into a vehicle, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He is being held at the Florence County Detention Center and is expected to be in court Tuesday.

On Monday, Officer Winkeler’s body was escorted from MUSC back to Florence.

Visitation for Officer Winkeler will be held Wednesday from 6 p.m. until p.m. at Pyerian Baptist Church, 2813 Pyerian Road in Latta.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday at the Florence Center located at 3300 W. Radio Drive, Florence.

Connie Anderson, the director for the Florence Regional Airport, has released the following statement:

“I believe the thing that sets us apart from other airports is the family unit that we have here. Yesterday, one of our family members lost his life in the line of duty, serving our airport. Officer Jackson Winkeler brought so much joy to our work family. His contagious laughter and infectious personality had the ability to brighten a room when walking in the door and he will forever impact those of us here at the Florence Regional Airport who had the pleasure of working with him. Please continue to pray for us as our family unit is broken right now but we are so thankful for the Grace of our Heavenly Father and know that in time, we will heal. As we do so, Jackson’s memory and dedication to the Florence Regional Airport will FOREVER live on. We ask you to please join us in prayer for Jackson’s family. Thank you Winkeler family for allowing us to love and share in your son’s life. He is and will always be Florence Regional Airport’s hero.”

Count on News13 for updates.

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