Slain South Carolina officer honored during National Police Week

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 10:11 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - During this National Police Week, the nation remembers nearly 400 fallen heroes who died in service to their communities.

The memorial events will include honoring Florence Regional Airport Public Safety Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler. Winkeler – who was murdered last year – is the first known public safety officer from his department to be killed while on the job.

“Jackson had a servant’s heart in every sense of the word,” said Latta Police Department Lieutenant Zane Bryant.

Friends say Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler was selfless, kind-hearted, and earned the respect of many.

“He found the good in everybody. He looked at every situation half full,” said Bryant.

Close childhood friend, Latta Police Department Lieutenant Zane Bryant, says that is why it is especially heartbreaking Winkeler was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. His death has been felt far and wide in the community, especially for his parents, who lost their other son, Mark, in a car accident.

“We promised his mom and dad that as long as we were able, Jackson wouldn’t be forgotten,” said Bryant.

Florence Regional Airport Chief Robert Norton says Winkeler, who was also a volunteer firefighter, inspired many. Since his death, they’ve started a foundation in his honor.

“He’s always been one to give back,” said Florence Regional Airport Chief Robert Norton. “So we’re not looking at it as an ending but we’re looking at it as a beginning.”

On the one-year anniversary of the shooting, Winkeler’s friends walked six miles in their full gear, in honor of his call sign. He was stationed at Airport 6 leading up to his death, and each mile represented Winkeler’s dedication to protecting the public.

Friends plan to use funds raised for scholarships and Christmas gifts for children.

“He was a great young man, trying to do what he loved to do. That’s the biggest thing. He’s always wanted to be a police officer, and he finally got to fulfill his dream,” said Norton.

Winkeler’s name was recently etched in at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall. Virtual services are taking place this week, while the in-person events are scheduled for October.

There will be a candlelight vigil held virtually this Thursday night at 8 o’clock, to honor Winkeler and the other fallen heroes from around the country.

For those who would like to donation to Winkeler’s foundation, you can send contributions to the Florence Regional Airport or call 843-616-5264. The address is 2100 Terminal Drive Florence SC 29506, attention Airport PD.

Memorial services at the U.S. Capitol are scheduled to take place October 13th to the 17th.

Supervisor of Videography Timothy Knapp contributed to this report.

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