FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The death of Myrtle Beach officer Jacob Hancher over the weekend sent shockwaves through Grand Strand communities.
But his death also hits close to home for many in law enforcement in the Pee Dee– particularly among agencies still grieving losses of their own.
“No matter what part of the country it’s in, it affects all of us in law enforcement when a fellow officer is killed,” Florence County Sheriff Billy Barnes said. “Of course we experienced it first hand here a couple years ago. We still think about them everyday.”
He’s referring to the Vintage Place ambush, which oddly happened exactly two years prior to the shooting that killed PFC. Hancher. It claimed the lives of FCSO Investigator Farrah Turner and Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway. Five other law enforcement officers were hurt.
“You have to move forward but you have to keep them in your mind and remember them,” the sheriff said.
That can be tough, though.
“We still have officers who have to receive counseling today because of this thing two years ago,” the sheriff said. “It doesn’t ever go away.”
He said deputies within the FCSO are able to lift each other up by talking about things. He also said the community support has been impactful.
Kassy Alia Ray, CEO and Founder of non-profit Serve & Connect, agrees community support is critical in times of loss.
She knows that from first hand experience after her husband, Greg Alia, was killed in the line of duty in 2015.
“When he was killed, the community rallied around our son and I,” she explained. “Our son turned six months old that day. And the community wrapped their arms around us. Loved us. And one of the things they did do was support a fundraiser.”
Alia Ray now helps get support like that to families in need through her non-profit. Serve & Connect offers its Crisis Response Program when an officer is killed or critically injured in the line of duty in South Carolina. That sets up a fundraising campaign.
Over 30,000 dollars have already been raised to support Officer Hancher’s family and honor his service.
“This is a really strong network,” Alia Ray said. “There are a lot of really amazing, resilient people who rally around families of officers in times of need.”
The Florence Police Department said it’s reached out to its partners in Myrtle Beach in this statement to News13
The death of Officer Jacob Hancher is close to home for us at the Florence Police Department. The Sgt. Terrence Carraway and Inv. Farrah Turner’s tragic deaths seem to have been just yesterday. Our words fail to express the depth of this sorrow, but our officers and staff understand the heaviness of their loss, and we mourn with them. Chief Heidler has reached out to Chief Prock to offer our condolences and our full assistance.