Sixteen years later, his memory lives on.
Myrtle Beach police officer Joseph John McGarry Jr, whose watch came to a tragic end when he was killed in the line of duty Dec. 29, 2002, was remembered Friday as officers laid a wreath in his honor.
McGarry was humble, said Capt. Eric DiLorenzo, who worked with and was friends with McGarry. DiLorenzo said he will never forget the moment he heard McGarry was shot and killed in the line of duty.
“No way it was Joe,” he said. “The moment I found out Joe was shot and had passed, it was one of those that you never forget where you were.
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“I’ll never forget him.”
After McGarry was killed, DiLorenzo said, many officers questioned if they should stay in law enforcement. Officers paid closer attention to safety after the incident, he said.
“He wasn’t just one of the officers,” DiLorenzo said. “Everybody had a personal relationship with Joe. He did some amazing things out in our community.”
Due to the rainy weather, the annual service was canceled Friday afternoon. But a wreath was placed by the memorial fountain at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center a day before the 16th anniversary of McGarry’s death.
McGarry was shot in the face as he questioned a man suspected in a previous homicide outside of a Dunkin’ Donuts on North Kings Highway at 12:30 a.m. He was 28 years old.
Luzenski Allen Cottrell was convicted of McGarry’s murder — in addition to two unrelated killings — and was sentenced to death.
McGarry and his partner, Mike Guthinger, were walking into Dunkin’ Donuts that night when Guthinger recognized Cottrell as a suspect in an Horry County shooting, according to court testimony.
The officers waited for Cottrell and others with him to leave the shop before confronting him on the sidewalk outside. A brief struggle ensued.
Cottrell pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and opened fire, fatally wounding McGarry, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Guthinger returned fire, striking Cottrell in the leg as he fled the scene.
McGarry had served four years with the Myrtle Beach Police Department and was working on the Street Crimes Unit the night he died. He had proposed to his girlfriend, Holly Newman Sinkway, on Christmas Eve morning just before the shooting. The two were engaged to be married.