Funeral: Hundreds honor Georgia officer slain with colleague

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2016 7:18 PM
Funeral: Hundreds honor Georgia officer slain with colleague

AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) — Hundreds of people paid their last respects during a funeral and burial Sunday for a Georgia police officer shot and killed with his best friend and fellow officer last week.

A horse-drawn carriage carried the body of Americus police officer Nicholas Smarr, 25, his casket draped with the American flag and led by an honor guard, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution (http://on-ajc.com/2hjC4pc ) reported. Mourners lined the route of the procession, somberly waving flags as some wiped away tears.

Smarr and Jody Smith, a 26-year-old officer with Georgia Southwestern State University, were shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call Wednesday in Americus in south Georgia. Authorities said the suspected shooter died Thursday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a manhunt.

Americus Police Chief Mark Scott spoke at Sunday's funeral. He said that even after Smarr was shot, he performed CPR on his wounded friend. Smarr died at the scene, and Smith a day later at a hospital.

George Saratsiotis, proprietor of an area menswear shop, said the two officers were regular customers of his. He said the close-knit Georgia community has been shocked by the slayings, adding "the atmosphere in the town is very sad. Everybody is talking to each other and trying to help each other right now."

"It's not fair for them to go so young," he told the newspaper.

Smarr was the sixth law enforcement officer fatally shot in Georgia this year, double the total killed by guns in the previous two years combined, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. When Smith died the following day, he became the seventh officer killed by gunfire in 2016, the newspaper added.

Police have said Smarr was responding to the call Wednesday when he and Smith were fired upon. They were both shot after Smith went to back up Smarr at an apartment complex just south of the university campus, according to authorities.

Minquell Lembrick, 32, the suspect in the shootings, was found dead Thursday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police have said.

Friends and family had gathered Friday at Georgia Southwestern to remember the officers, who had been friends since fourth grade and shared an apartment in Sumter County. "I have cried and cried and I know I'm going to cry and cry for a long time," Sharron Johnson said to about 200 people who'd gathered for that candle-light vigil for her son, Jody Smith, and Smarr.

Funeral services for Smith have not yet been announced.