A Myrtle Beach police officer killed in the line of duty was remembered during an annual service Monday night at a new, expanded memorial site.
Joe McGarry was shot and killed in 2002 while confronting a suspect outside a doughnut shop.
Cpl. Mike Guthinger, who was with McGarry the night he died, said the day doesn’t get any easier but is honored each year when a large crowd continues to gather to remember his friend.
Myrtle Beach police Chief Warren Gall said he worries each year that officers may not know the history of the fallen officers and that the attendance may dwindle, but those fears were squashed by Monday evening’s turnout of at least 75 people including McGarry’s parents and fiance and members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
A bagpiper opened the ceremony before Gall presented McGarry’s parents with an American flag and addressed the crowd with a short speech.
Gall said he hopes the memory of McGarry never fades.
The memorial moved this year from its location at the employee entrance to the Ted C. Collins Lawn Enforcement Center on the corner of Mr. Joe White and Oak Street to 1002 Carver Street. The new spot features a fountain, brick pavers with inscriptions and stone memorials for McGarry and for officer Henry Scarborough.
Scarborough died his first day on the job in March 1949 and did not previously have a memorial in Myrtle Beach, Capt. David Knipes said.
Gall calls the memorial a “work in progress” and said additions are likely, but he hopes the department never needs to add another name.
“Obviously we have room here,” he said. “We hope that we fill it up with benches, and flowers and grass, but no more markers.”
He said he wants officers to enjoy the memorial, but said the more public location carries a greater risk of vandalism and hopes the site is respected.
“It’s a place where they can come out and think about how precious life is,” Gall said.
Luzenski Allen Cottrell was convicted of murder in 2005 and faced the death penalty, but that conviction was overturned in 2008 by the state Supreme Court. The justices ruled that a jury should have been allowed to consider a lesser charge because McGarry may have been overly aggressive in questioning and restraining him.
That retrial date is still pending, according to Horry County public records.
He also was convicted for shooting at Guthinger.
After he was sent to death row for killing McGarry, Cottrell was convicted of killing another man in November 2002.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.