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On the morning of Jan. 5, 2020, Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler of the Florence Regional Airport Department of Public Safety was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop shortly before 6 a.m. Winkeler was 26 years old.

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According to law enforcement, a man opened fire on Winkeler during the stop, stole his service weapon and fled the scene. The Florence County Sheriff’s Office arrested the suspect shortly after the incident.

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A memorial fund has been established to support Officer Winkeler’s family during this tragic time. People can donate by visiting https://serveandconnect.net/tragedy-response/.

Winkeler was a new officer who also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Latta Fire Department. He is remembered as a happy, giving person who loved hunting, racing and fishing. Yet his parents, Denise and Mark, note that his true love was service.

"He loved his hobbies, but if you had to pile them up, law enforcement and rescue would be at the top of that pile," his father said.

Jackson began his life of service as a volunteer firefighter.

"He always carried his fire gear wherever he went," his parents said.

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“To know him was to love him,” said his sister, Adrienne Cook, who remembers him as a loving brother and outstanding uncle. “He was a beautiful soul with the biggest heart. Somebody who would give the shirt off of his back to help anyone in need. Someone who loved God, his family and his community.

“He played with my son as if he was 5 himself. If he could have had his own kids, he would have been a great dad,” she said.

This fundraiser will support Jackson's family during this difficult time, assisting with any unexpected costs related to his untimely death and honoring his legacy of service.

The fundraiser is facilitated by Serve & Connect, a nonprofit organization focused on igniting positive change through police-community partnerships. Since 2015, Serve & Connect has raised over $500,000 for families of fallen officers in South Carolina. Serve & Connect was founded by Kassy Alia Ray in memory of her late husband, Officer Gregory Alia, who was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 30, 2015.

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The fundraiser is endorsed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association, the South Carolina Police Chiefs Association, South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police and Florence Regional Airport Department of Public Safety. One hundred percent of funds raised will be provided directly to Winkeler's family. All donations are tax deductible.

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