Florence Community Seeking Answers, Peace as Fallen Officer Laid to Rest

By Todd Sumlin   •   October 9, 2018

Thousands attended the funeral of Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway on October 8 at the Florence Civic Center. Carraway was shot and killed in what officials are calling an "ambush" shooting as deputies attempted to carry out a search warrant.
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains deployed to Florence, South Carolina, on the night of the shooting, ministering to law enforcement officials as well as other residents in the community in need of hope after this unexpected tragedy.
The city of Florence is fairly small and will need time to recover from the shock and grief experienced. The alleged shooter, 74-year-old Fred Hopkins, faces one count of murder in the death of Sgt. Carraway. He also faces six counts of attempted murder for the shooting of the other officers and deputies wounded at the scene.
“We grieve together today, a community in pain, and we too may be tempted by this world around us to be filled with anger, bitterness and hatred with the desire of vengeance," Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said. "We must aspire to that standard set for us by Carraway, set for us by our peacemaker."
This police car memorial was set up at First Baptist Church in Florence shortly after last week's shooting. Also in the Vintage Place subdivision where the incident took place, some residents are now displaying blue and black ribbons in memory of Sgt. Carraway and as a show of solidarity with law enforcement officials.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." —2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)
More than 400 law enforcement officials from across the country attended Sgt. Carraway's funeral. He would've celebrated 31 years with the Florence Police Department later this month. Carraway is survived by his wife and three adult children.
When crisis-trained RRT chaplains deploy, they connect with local church leaders and others to see how and where they can help. Most of the chaplains ministering in Florence after this shooting are active-duty or retired law enforcement officers.
The Mobile Ministry Center (pictured behind the memorial) is a place where people can come to talk to and pray with chaplains in their time of need. Chaplains have seen God move in mighty ways as people take comfort in knowing someone is there for them.
"Not every difficulty in life comes to us for this reason. But when hard times come—as they will— we need to ask what God may be trying to teach us through them. Most of all, we need to turn to Him for the strength and patience we need. Never forget: God’s love is strongest when our own strength is weakest." —Billy Graham
"When you sit here on a memorial and look, it's not just white, it's not black, it's not old or young, but it's people," RRT chaplain Kelly Burke told local media. "It's just hearts that are breaking, hearts that are seeking some answers, minds that are seeking some understanding wanting to find some peace. It's something we all share in common."
Officers and deputies in this community face a tough task in the coming weeks and months: dealing with their grief while continuing to serve their community. Join us in praying for these law enforcement officials and the people they serve.