LAKE CITY, S.C. — A black pickup truck parked outside the Lake City Police Department had a U.S. Marine Corps flag draped across the hood, balloons, an American flag and flowers on it. By later in the afternoon on Sept. 18, some more balloons and a floral wreath had been added.
Thus started and grew the memorial for Lake City police Lt. John Stewart who died in the line of duty at the end of a pursuit on Matthews Road half a mile north of U.S. 378.
Many were quick to praise him and remember him fondly though reluctant to go on the record since the investigation into his death continues through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
A firefighter who spoke anonymously said he was a fine officer.
“He grew up with the city and he’ll be missed. Everybody who came along, he didn’t mind teaching anyone,” the firefighter said. “He came to work with a smile on his face, always. He was one of the guys you looked up to. He’ll be missed.”
“He was very nice. He’s been with Lake City for a long time,” said Tiffany Jones, a Florence County corrections officer who works part time on the desk at the Inn at the Crossroads in Lake City. “He was a great guy.”
“He was a great guy. Very respectful, nice. I’d always see him and his partner all the time and he’d always wave at me.” said Franklin Gamble, a downtown Lake City gallery attendant.
“I can tell you from a work standpoint he was always eager to do his job. He wasn’t the type to disappear for a while and then show back up,” said Lake City Mayor Lovith Anderson. “This was a gentleman who showed up ready to work.”
“Just keep our community and our officers, not only ours, but all officers in your prayers,” Anderson said. “It’s everybody.”
Digital Editor Matt Robertson is a veteran journalist who has fulfilled just about every role that a newspaper has and now serves as a key member of the Morning News’ newsroom by maintaining SCNow.com and covering the occasional story and photo assignment.