Myrtle Beach remembers fallen police officer on 10th anniversary of his shooting death

12/28/2012 10:13 PM

12/28/2012 10:16 PM

Police, firefighters, family and friends gathered Friday to remember Joe McGarry outside the employee entrance to the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center on the corner of Oak Street and Mr. Joe White Avenue.

McGarry, a Myrtle Beach Police officer, was shot and killed 10 years ago while confronting a suspect outside a doughnut shop.

Next year’s service may be in a different location, said Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall. The department hopes to move the stone memorial to the front of the building making it more accessible to the public.

“Originally we put it here because this is the door we go in and everybody would see it,” said Cpl. Mike Guthinger, who was with McGarry the night he died.

He said moving it where even more people could see it daily would be a nice change.

Gall said the community still sings the praises of McGarry.

“Just a few months ago, I was at the Canal Street Recreation Center and out of the blue staff members came up to me and were talking about the police department,” he said. “A couple of them mentioned, ‘You know we sure miss him, he had an impact on these kids.’ ”

The service has been held every year since McGarry’s death, but it doesn’t get any easier for those who knew him.

“This day’s just hard,” Guthinger said.

His father, Joe McGarry, said he’s honored by the annual service and the crowd it draws.

“It just lets us know that we’re still embraced by the department, especially the chief and all of the other officers,” he said. “They keep us going.”

Guthinger also said the memorial helps.

“It’s good having all of us together so we never forget and keep this tradition going and make sure the new guys don’t end up in the same position,” he said.

Gall said he’s not sure the new or young officers truly understand what it means to lose a fellow officer, but that he’d rather they not know.

“I pray and hope that these young officers never have to face what we have here,” he said.

Joe McGarry said he’s still frustrated that the retrial of his son’s accused killer is pending.

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.

He was also 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.

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