‘We lost a hero’: Fallen Lake City police officer remembered as a mentor

Pee Dee

LAKE CITY, S.C. (WBTW) — People across the Pee Dee remembered Lt. John Stewart of the Lake City Police Department Saturday. He died in the line of duty on Friday.

One of Stewart’s former coworkers called him a mentor.

“Couldn’t stop crying,” Belita Salters, who worked with Stewart from 2017 to 2019 said. “It was just like, no words could describe. Why?”

Flowers, a wreath and U.S. Marine Corps memorabilia now decorate Stewart’s police truck. Lake City Police Chief Jody Cooper turned on the truck’s lights and adorned his badge with the thin blue line Saturday afternoon.

“Everybody is saddened by this news right now,” Salters said. “Prayers to his family, everybody in law enforcement who knew him, even in the military. Everybody.”

Belita Salters is a domestic violence investigator for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. During her first law enforcement job, she worked alongside Stewart at the Lake City Police Department.

“No matter what time it was, who it was, you could call him and he would definitely be there for you,” Salters said.

She said he always knew how to make others laugh and recalled a CPR class in which he enthusiastically rushed forward to put a defibrillator on the dummy.

“He jumped up and said, ‘I got it!’ And put it on the dummy,” Salters said. “He was just sitting there like a clown and I was dying laughing.”

Salters said after she left Lake City PD, she would regularly get Facetime calls from Stewart and the rest of the department.

“We didn’t lose a bond, a connection. We didn’t have to talk every day but when they called me, I knew who it was,” Salters said. “Brogdon and Stewart were on the phone, ready to talk.”

She said Stewart always urged her to rejoin the Lake City Police Department, which he called “The Dream Team.”

“We lost a hero, a mentor,” Salters said. “He’s just an amazing person and he’s truly, truly going to be missed.”

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