Funeral held for Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The community gathered Thursday to remember fallen Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler.

Officer Winkeler’s funeral was held at 11 a.m. at the Florence Center, located at 3300 W Radio Drive in Florence.

SC Governor Henry McMaster has ordered flags on all state buildings to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Thursday in honor of Officer Winkeler. Gov. McMaster also requested that flags over buildings of political subdivisions of SC to flown at half-staff.

Warrants released by the SC Law Enforcement Division (SLED) state that on January 5, Officer Winkeler initiated a traffic stop on a white 2014 Chrysler 200 on the airport property. During the traffic stop, James Edward Bell shot and killed Officer Winkeler, according to warrants.

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.

Bell, who is from Florida, appeared in court Tuesday, where he was held over to circuit court for a bond hearing. Bell’s future court dates were set 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.

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

On Wednesday evening, a visitation was held for Officer Winkeler at Pyerian Baptist Church in the rural neighborhood he grew up in called Floyd Dale. It’s a few miles west of downtown Latta. A police and firefighter escort brought his body to the church.

Family, friends and other Dillon County residents gathered to pay their respects to a man many say gave so much to them.

“We’re going to miss Jackson,” said Kevin Winkeler, who is Jackson’s uncle. “Everyone in this community is going to miss Jackson. Everyone in Dillon County is going to miss Jackson. He was just a good guy.”

Read more about what community members had to say about Officer Winkeler here.

Officer Winkeler was also a firefighter in Latta, News13 learned Monday. His fellow firefighters there were still in shock following Sunday’s tragedy.

“He put everybody before he put his own self,” Latta fire Lieutenant John Bethea said. He’d known Winkeler almost his whole life. “He was just an all around good fireman.”

Not just a fireman- Winkeler was a friend. And one that Bethea said would not be forgotten.

“Jackson’s always going to have a spot in my heart, but it’s going to bring us together,” Lt. Bethea said. “The whole community. We’re going to be a whole lot closer tonight.”

He said Winkeler was supposed to start training to be a police officer Sunday.

Count on News13 for updates.

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