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‘He gave the ultimate sacrifice:’ Body of fallen Lake City police officer escorted back to the Pee Dee

Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 3:01 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2021 at 3:03 PM EDT
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FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A fallen police officer in the Pee Dee was guided home by his peers on Sunday.

The body of Lake City Police Department Lt. John Stewart was escorted to the Bacot-Eaddy Funeral Home in Timmonsville following an autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

It was an especially difficult day for his family and law enforcement, including Lake City Police Chief Jody Cooper.

“The autopsy took several hours. To us, it felt like days,” he said. “The transition, the ride to Charleston itself was so long and exhausting. I think I wept all the way there.”

Funeral arrangements for Stewart have not been finalized, according to Lake City officials. A community prayer vigil will also be held Thursday at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Memorial Park.

Cooper said Sunday that the family and other officers are “pretty much in a good place,” adding that they’re transitioning to what’s next in the days and weeks that follow.

“The journey is not over with yet,” Cooper said. “We still have a long week ahead of us. We’ve still got long days ahead of us after this. So it never ends.”

Lake City officials said Stewart was killed in the midst of a pursuit that ended near Lee’s Body Shop on North Matthews Road on Friday.

Authorities are also investigating an apparent carjacking that occurred shortly after Stewart’s death, and are working to determine if the two incidents are related. Jermaine Roberson, of Olanta, remains in custody in connection to that incident as of Sunday.

Law enforcement agencies from across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, including the Horry County Police Department, Horry County Sheriff’s Office and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, also offered their condolences late Friday.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating Stewart’s death.

All while his family, peers and the Lake City community continue to mourn.

“He gave the ultimate sacrifice. For that, we can never depreciate that. We can never repay him for what he’s done,” Cooper said.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.

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