Florida man charged in shooting death of Florence officer gets court date, no bond given

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A Florida man charged in the shooting death of a Florence airport officer was held over to circuit court for a bond hearing and his court date was set.

James Edward Bell appeared on Tuesday before the judge to faces charges of murder, discharging a firearm into a vehicle and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the death of Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler.

The judge set Bell’s court dates for 9 a.m. on April 30 and also 9 a.m. on June 5. Bond will be set in Circuit Court since the charges involve murder.

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

When additional officers arrived, they said 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.

Bell later 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 being held at the Florence County Detention Center and is expected to be in court Tuesday. The murder charge carries up to a life sentence if found guilty. Charge of discharging a fire carries up to 10 years.

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, servingour 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.

James Edward Bell

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