The Grand Strand honored fallen Myrtle Beach police officer Jacob Hancher Friday.
Community members packed the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for his public funeral service, where those close to him remembered him as a gentle giant and devoted policeman and volunteer fireman.
“If you ever had the pleasure of meeting Jacob then you know he is someone that you will never forget,” Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock said. “He had an infectious smile a, quick wit and a deep desire to help anyone who needed it.”
Hancher was killed in the line of duty the night of Oct. 3. He was 23 years old.
“He put other people in front of himself,” said Lt. Mike Guthinger with the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
Police were responding to a domestic dispute in the 400 block of 14th Avenue South when they were confronted by 20-year-old John Aycoth, who exchanged gunfire with officers. Hancher was killed, and another officer was injured. Aycoth also died during the shooting.
“If I know Jacob, he’s looking down on us right now with that big goofy grin of his hoping that we celebrate his life and not focus on the tragedy itself,” MBPD patrolman Justin Barrick said.
During training, one could often hear Jacob say that he wants to be “high speed,” according to his friend. Being a cop was his dream job, and Barrick reminisced over Hancher training in order to pass his agility test.
“He could not be any more ecstatic,” Barrick said of when Hancher became an officer. “It’s all he would talk about.”
Hancher was born in Silver Spring, Maryland. He graduated from Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf in 2015 before moving to the Myrtle Beach area.
During his time on the Grand Strand, he attended Horry Georgetown Technical College and volunteered with Horry County Fire Rescue out of Station No. 45 in Carolina Forest.
Before becoming a Myrtle Beach police officer, Hancher spent four years as a community service officer, a city employee who assists with police functions such as directing traffic and managing school crossings.
Across the community, his death was mourned.
Folks lined Oak Street with flags and packed the convention center for Friday’s service.
“My children said, ‘Dad, Mr. Jacob shut the road down,’” State Law Enforcement Division Lt. Jade Roy said.
“That he did,” he told them.
Signature boards greeted folks who walked into the convention center.
Slain Myrtle Beach officer Joe McGarry’s motorcycle, which Hancher had purchased, and fire rescue gear lay near the stage.
Hancher's police and fire rescue family saluted him and talked about how he wasn’t the timid, quiet type.
They laughed as they shared memories including family check-ins, their colleage serenading everyone and TikTok videos.
“These are the memories that will be embedded on our hearts forever,” Prock said.
Hancher was a fan of Bojangles’, Chick-fil-A and barbecue sauce. He’d fill a Solo cup with Oreos and milk and eat the cookies with a fork.
Oftentimes, he would have full conversations in his sleep.
“I guess that was proof that Jacob never truly slept,” Roy said. “He was always serving others.”
As a missionary with his church, the Catholic Church of St. James in Conway, Hancher was known for his strength and being the person who could move or lift anything.
When work was done, he’d play with the kids in the area on their playground.
“That night, we lost one of the good guys,” Barrick said of Oct. 3. “I lost my partner, I lost my friend and most importantly, I lost my brother.”
Guthinger saw Hancher’s transformation from a tall teen with a flat-top haircut into a dedicated policeman.
Even before Hancher was a city employee, the lieutenant knew was fit for the job and would eventually be hired.
Hancher was an upbeat person who law enforcement veterans would often take under their wing, he said, and was known for his big personality.
“He made each day just a little bit better for us with his presence. When he walked into a room, everybody smiled.”
Barrick reflected on the reason people go into police work.
“Most people say it’s to help people, but to Jacob, that’s truly what he wanted to do,” he said.
The chief also recalled one of the first conversations she ever had with Hancher, who had asked her why she wanted to be a police officer.
“My response was simple,” Prock said. “Because it’s the best damn job you will ever have.”
She also informed him on how he can help others through law enforcement work.
“I explained you can make a difference in someone’s life by your response,” she said. “You can help someone on their worst day.
"You can just be a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. You can take that bad guy to jail. You can stop the pain and suffering. You can do all of that by making a difference.”
“I’m going to do that,” Prock said, remembering Hancher’s response. “I’m going to do all those things.
“And he did.”