Ahead Of 1-Year Anniversary, Sc County Honors Fallen Officer

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Less than two weeks ahead of the one-year anniversary of his death, Horry County Council members voted to pass a resolution to honor former Myrtle Beach police officer Jacob Hancher.

Hancher, who was 23 when he was shot and killed by John Aycoth, died as he was responding to a domestic dispute at the corner of 14th Avenue and Yaupon Drive in Myrtle Beach on Oct. 3, 2020. The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) later determined that Hancher had shot and killed Aycoth, returning his fire, while other Myrtle Beach police officers who responded shot and killed Aycoth. No officers were charged with wrongdoing from the incdicent. Law enforcement officials from Myrtle Beach to Horry County to Columbia have since honored Hancher’s death, calling it a sacrifice in the line of duty.

Hancher was also inducted in the South Carolina Law Enforcement Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

In its resolution honoring Hancher, which passed unanimously, county officials wrote that Hancher, “personified the values of courage, professionalism, and service to community for which Horry County is eternally grateful.”

A portion of River Oaks Drive in the Carolina Forest area will be renamed to honor Hancher, County Council member Dennis DiSabato said.

Hancher had worked with the Myrtle Beach Police Department for four years at the time of his death, first as a Community Service Officer and later as a police officer. Hancher also served for four years as a volunteer firefighter with Horry County Fire Rescue.

At the council’s Tuesday night meeting, DiSabato and Hancher’s mother, Suzanne Williams, gave brief remarks to honor Hancher. DiSabato had a list of thank-yous.

“I want to thank Jacob Hancher and his family for the ultimate sacrifice they made and for the service they’ve given to our community,” he said. “I want to thank all people in uniform, both police and fire, both in the county and in all of the municipalities...I want to thank the police officers from Myrtle Beach that had to come tonight to show their respects and honor their fallen officer.”

DiSabato added: “And most of all I want to thank Jacob’s mother for being here to day with us to memorialize his ultimate sacrifice.”

Williams said she was grateful to Horry County leaders for honoring her son.

“I just wanted to pay my respects to council and tell you thank you for all that you have done to keep my son’s memory alive,” she said. “And thank you to these fine officers and public safety officials in both fire and police who do so much to keep our community safe.”

Williams added: “As a mother of a peace officer and a firefighter, thank you beyond words for everything that you all do, so thank you.”

Hancher has been honored by Myrtle Beach police in the past and his name has been etched into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. After a public funeral service in Myrtle Beach last year, Hancher was buried in his hometown of Waldorf, Maryland.

On the night Hancher died, he had responded to a call about a domestic disturbance in Myrtle Beach. Aycoth’s then girlfriend had broken up with him and forced him to move out of their shared apartment when Aycoth became agitated, SLED said in a report issued in February. A friend of Aycoth’s ex-girlfriend called police, and Aycoth said he would shoot any police who arrived. Aycoth had been known to have mental health issues and owned several guns, according to SLED’s report.

As Hancher arrived to respond to the 911 call, Aycoth began shooting, according to dash cam footage released by police as well as the SLED report. Both men ended up dead.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner echoed the sentiment that Hancher had given “the ultimate sacrifice.”

“I was in the Army myself, my father was in the Army, service is the ultimate sacrifice and we feel for his family,” Gardner said. “He was not only a police officer but he worked for the county in the fire department as a volunteer and our heart goes out, and has, from the beginning to today.”

Hancher will be further honored at a memorial event on Oct. 3.