BY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NEWS
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) — A Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, police officer was killed and another was wounded when they responded to a domestic incident and came under attack by a gunman who died at the scene, authorities said.
Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock identified the slain officer as Jacob Hancher, who was sworn in as a police officer less than a year ago after serving as a department community service officer for four years.
“He was a dedicated public servant, who upheld his oath to protect this community and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Prock said at a news conference early Sunday. “He cared about the people he served (and) served with, and absolutely loved the Myrtle Beach. I ask of you today to please keep Jacob, his family and his fellow officers in your prayers.”
Myrtle Beach police officials said the shooting erupted around 10 p.m. Saturday in an area of motels and private residences about two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which is leading the investigation, issued a statement on Sunday saying Hancher and another officer were responding to a domestic call when the shooting erupted.
“Following the exchange of gunfire, the suspect was discovered deceased,” reads the statement.
A second officer was wounded in the gunfight and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the statement.
It was not immediately clear if the alleged gunman, whose name was not released, was shot by the officers or died from a self-inflicted gunshot.
No further information was released about the deadly confrontation.
Neighborhood residents told The Sun News of Myrtle Beach that they heard multiple shots fired in the gun battle.
Hancher is the first Myrtle Beach police officer killed in the line of duty in 18 years, and the 37th officer involved in a shooting in South Carolina in 2020, according to the statement from SLED.
In 2019, there were a total of 45 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina, including one involving a Myrtle Beach police officer, officials said.
A preliminary report from the FBI shows that Hancher was the 38th U.S. law enforcement officer feloniously killed in 2020. During the same time period in 2019, 33 officers were feloniously killed. The FBI report shows that at least eight officers killed this year were the victims of an ambush and two others died in unprovoked attacks.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune posted a statement on Facebook about the shooting, saying, “I am humbly asking for your heartfelt prayers for our MBPD. They need our community to show them love, support and strength.”
In addition to being a police officer, Hancher served as a volunteer member of the Horry County, South Carolina, Fire Rescue Department, the agency said in a Twitter post.
“Our hearts go out to Hancher’s family, friends, loved ones, law enforcement colleagues and fellow team members here at HCFR during this difficult time,” the fire department’s statement reads.
Hancher was also a member of the Catholic Church of St. James in Conway, South Carolina, church officials said in a statement posted Sunday morning on Facebook that included a photo of Hancher.
Church officials said Hancher was part of a contingent that traveled to Honduras in 2017 to do missionary work.
“For those who were able to serve alongside him, they learned of his kindness and selfless service,” reads the statement from officials at the church. “We are deeply saddened by his passing. We ask for your prayers for his family, friends, and fellow officers who are mourning his loss.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also posted a message of condolences on Twitter, saying he was just in Myrtle Beach on Friday speaking with a group of police officers.
“The cops need our support now more than ever,” Graham said. “I’ve never known a more difficult time to be a police officer.”
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