MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — As a family of brothers and sisters in blue prepare to say a final goodbye to one of their own, they’re vowing to keep his memory alive.
PFC. Jacob Hancher was shot and killed while responding to a domestic call on Saturday in Myrtle Beach.
“We were on a call right before that and everything was fine,” PFC. Mark Bechtel explained. “Then that call was actually mine and his and another guy.”
PFC. Hancher had just taken his oath to serve and protect months earlier.
“I saw myself in him and everyone getting sworn in,” PFC. Cody Kolb remembered about the ceremony. “Anyone that wants to be a police officer, that’s the day.”
Kolb had known Hancher before that day. Both men also served as members of Horry County Fire Rescue.
Hancher previously served as a CSO for the city for four years before finally getting his badge. While his teammates say it took a few tries to get his spot at the academy, when he did, it was a dream come true. A dream now cut short.
“I got a phone call about 1:30 in the morning saying that an officer I had went to the academy with got shot in the knee,” Patrolman Makaeley Coleman said. “And they were like ‘Hancher passed away at the scene.’ I broke down.
It was the first weekend she’d taken off in over a year.
“It was hard because I couldn’t be with my shift,” Coleman said.
The trio remembers the 23-year-old as a force on the Waterfront shift he served on along — a positive force. Bechtel and Coleman say it’s a tough assignment to work, but it made Hancher a stronger officer early on in his career. They say he was excited for the assignment and they, too, were excited to have him join their shift family.
“There’d literally be times he’d come into work, knock on my window, and say ‘alright man, I’m [going to] get you to smile today!’ And I’d just start laughing, ‘Get outta here man!’ That’s just how he was,” Bechtel remembered with a big smile on his face. “He literally would try to get someone to smile. If he pulled up somewhere, he’d pull up beside you and never stop talking.”
But anyone you’d talk to say that was just Jacob being Jacob. A recent video Coleman captured Hancher getting caught singing Taylor Swift in his patrol car showed his light-hearted side in what can be a very hard career.
“That was ultimately the last song that I was with him to hear him sing. I just decide — we had a little group on Snapchat — and caught in the act doing something funny. So that was one of those moments where I was like, ‘Oh! Let me catch this!'” Coleman said. “I never saved one of them before — a video like that — but for some reason that night, I decided to and I’m glad I did.”
Those little quirks were what made Hancher so uniquely loved by these three officers. But his kindness for others who wear the badge spoke volumes too.
Kolb read us a post from a fellow Horry County police officer about how Hancher impacted him one night — and the two didn’t even know each other.
“I worked for a neighboring agency and was sitting in a parking lot in the city writing a report,” he said. “Jake passed me, turned around, and pulled up next to me. He told me he saw me there alone and came back to sit with me because he didn’t want anything bad to happen to me. It took me an extra half hour to finish the report because he wouldn’t stop talking, but he said he was glad he was talkative because he got to know him. He shared with me he was a CSO for a while, how excited he finally was to work for the city as a police officer and he shared some of his goals he had.”
As the three officers now prepare to begin their goodbyes to friend, fellow officer, and brother, they hope they can carry on his legacy of serving the community with compassion and kindness.
“He wouldn’t want anybody’s life to stop,” Coleman said. “He’d want all of us to keep going, keep his memory alive and keep protecting and serving this community he loves and that we all love.”
“Just hold the people close to me a little closer. It just kind of puts things in perspective,” Kolb added.
A public viewing for Hancher will take place Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, followed by a public funeral at 2 p.m. Friday.