South Carolina Cop, a Decorated War Veteran, Shot and Killed Months Before Daughter's Birth: 'We Lose, We Hurt, We Ache'
Officer Jacobs did not un-holster his gun, the police chief said
A 28-year-old Greenville, South Carolina, police officer was shot and killed Friday – just months before the birth of his third child – while attempting to interview a fleeing teenage gang member, who then shot and killed himself, authorities said.
“We lose. We hurt. We ache,” Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said, according to the Greenville News. “No one wants to lose their officers.”
Officer Allen Jacobs, a four-and-a-half-year veteran of the department who previously served with the U.S. Army in Iraq, was shot about 12:30 p.m. local time while chasing 17-year-old Deontea Mackey on foot, Miller said in a Friday news conference.
Jacobs was shot “multiple times” by Mackey, a “self-described gang member” and “violent convicted felon,” Miller said. (Citing the notoriety it would bring them, Miller declined to identify Mackey’s gang.)
Jacobs did not un-holster his gun, Miller said. He said as far as he knew Friday, no officers fired at Mackey.
Responding officers rendered aid to Jacobs at the scene, and he was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital where he later died, despite wearing a bulletproof vest, Miller said.
Mackey fled about 200 yards from the scene before a perimeter of officers cut off further escape – at which point Mackey made a phone call to his mother and then shot and killed himself, Greenville police spokesman Gilberto Franco tells PEOPLE.
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Miller said that Jacobs and another officer were working Friday to “identify and engage” gang members in the city’s Nicholtown neighborhood when they stopped Mackey for a field interview, at which point Mackey fled.
Miller said he had earlier misspoken when he said the officers were serving Mackey with a warrant, which they were not.
Officers initially approached Mackey on the suspicion that he was attempting to purchase a firearm, Officer Franco says. Mackey had been charged a year earlier with strong-arm robbery, a felony, and then convicted, Franco says.
Mackey had been arrested and charged with that crime by the same community response team of which Jacobs was a part Friday, Franco says.
The State Law Enforcement Division will investigate the shooting, according to the News, and has taken Jacobs’ broken body camera and shell casings from the scene as evidence.
Miller said Friday “we ought to be able to do the right forensic analysis” to say which weapons fired which bullets.
Jacobs was “working hand in hand with our neighborhood leaders and with residents in our communities to make our community safer, to connect us better with those communities,” Miller said.
“This is everyone’s worse nightmare,” Miller said. “[Jacobs] was out doing our work. He’s a member of our community, and he was out there trying to keep us safe.”
Jacobs’ death is the first officer death in the line of duty in Greenville in 20 years, Franco says.
Jacobs earned “numerous medals and commendations” during his Army service and leaves behind two young sons and a pregnant wife, the department said in a news release.
He was expecting his third child, a daughter, in July.
The Community Reacts
Neighbors gathered in Nicholtown, some in disbelief, following the shooting, according to the News.
One woman told the paper her son knew Mackey, and had grown up playing with him.
“He was a good child. He was really kind of quiet. He was a quiet kid. But they always bothered him, the police, and say he was in a gang,” Stephanie Lowden told the paper.
The police department’s Facebook page identified Jacobs in a Friday post that has been shared more than 18,000 times. The top comment, by far, reads: “A wife without a husband, two children without a father and an unborn who will never know her father. This whole situation is horrible. Rest in Peace. And God be with his family.”
In an Instagram post, the department hailed Jacobs as someone who “always tried to find a way to give back to the community,” including helping escort veterans who flew to Washington D.C. on “honor flights” to visit their war memorials.
A GoFundMe for Jacobs’ family has also been created and, as of this writing, has raised more than $36,000. Local donations are also being taken through area banks.
Saturday morning, Jacobs’ patrol vehicle remained unmoved from the day before, as it has been slowly covered over with flowers.