Fallen Lake City Police officer remembered at prayer vigil

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LAKE CITY, S.C. (WBTW)– The Lake City community came together Thursday evening for a prayer vigil in honor of Lake City Police Lieutenant John Stewart. Stewart was killed Friday in the line of duty during a police chase.

Before the vigil, first responders and community members paid their respects to Stewart as his body lied in state. Chief Joseph Cooper of the Lake City Police Department said he knew Stewart for 15 years, and that his loss has been felt across the Pee Dee. He said he is encouraged by the charges brought against the suspect.

“He was out there making sure that suspect didn’t do any more damage to the community or hurt anyone else and the end result, he lost his life while he was doing it,” Cooper said. “When a department this small struggles with someone that has left this world way too soon in the line of duty, it has a ripple effect on the whole community and the department.”

The vigil was held at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Memorial Park. Stewart’s family and the community gathered to share songs and prayers in honor of Stewart. Mayor Lovith Anderson called Stewart a remarkable man.

“I know my last conversation with him,” Anderson said. “I said, ‘I need you to do something’ and he said OK. I said, ‘Are you working?’ He said no. I said, “Well, get somebody else to do it.’ But he came and did it himself.”

Chief Cooper also shared memories of Stewart’s time with the department. He said he has been touched by the shows of support from people who knew him, including one person he arrested.

“They came into the police department and said, ‘Jody, is that true what I saw on Facebook? Is John dead?’ I said, ‘Yes, he has been taken from us,'” Cooper said. “The guy shook his head and said, ‘Man, I’m going to miss him.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, he put you in jail about six times!’”

Stewart’s sister recalled how seriously he took his job.

“He was a good guy,” Diane stewart said. “We’ll never know the man he would have been, but please do believe, the man that you knew, that was not an act. He would arrest any of us.”

Lieutenant Stewart’s funeral will be held Friday at the Florence Center.

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