Somehow, Myra McCants made it through Friday – but by Wednesday, bullets again had pierced her broken heart.
Friday was the 23rd anniversary of the day her son, York County Sheriff’s Deputy Brent McCants, was gunned down during a traffic stop. On Wednesday, Myra McCants learned that a Forest Acres police officer – a 32-year-old cop with a wife and new baby – had been shot and killed.
McCants wept for a family she has never met.
“Oh, Lord, when will it all end?” she wondered. “These young men, they go out there and put on the uniform and a badge; they risk their lives for the safety of the rest of us, and they get killed.
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“When will these criminals stop?”
McCants called the atmosphere in America now – with cops under a microscope and gun-toting bad guys seemingly unafraid to confront police – dangerous for officers who risk everything when going to work.
“There is something wrong in our country when people shoot the police officers who are out there protecting the public,” McCants said. “The police are not the problem. Criminals are the problem.”
Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood was shot in 2003 while serving as a State Law Enforcement Division agent. Only a bulletproof vest saved his life.
Following their “protect and serve” motto, officers make life-or-death decisions every day, said Underwood, who was appalled by the death of Forest Acres Police Officer Greg Alia – believed to be the first officer shot and killed on duty in South Carolina this year.
“I tell my officers they have to be careful,” he said, “but there is something wrong in our state and country when people kill police officers.”
In 2011, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Rollins was shot while trying to stop the robbery of a Shrimp Boat restaurant. Last year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Shane Page was shot three times in an ambush at a Fort Mill home while working as part of a task force with York County deputies.
“Every time an officer – my officers or any – puts on that uniform and that gun and that badge, there are some people out there who would target them,” said York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant. “And that is just not right.”
All departments worry about criminals who shoot.
The Forest Acres Police Department, which protects a city of about 10,000 people, is roughly the same size as the Fort Mill Police Department. Fort Mill Officer Will Reap was shot by a drug-dealer in 2010 but survived.
Lt. Rich Caddell of the York Police Department, which is also about the same size as the Forest Acres police force, is worried that those who would target police have lost all inhibition. He said the national focus on police shootings might be causing officers to hesitate while on duty – and that can cost officers their lives.
Caddell is married to the daughter of Steve Jordan, who in 1975 was the last Rock Hill Police Department officer killed in the line of duty.
And yet, all these cops still put on the badge – that for some is a target – and go to work.