CEDARTOWN, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia police officer killed while investigating a stolen vehicle is being remembered as a devoted wife and mother who was always willing to help others.
Polk County police Officer Kristin Hearne was fatally shot Friday when she and Officer David Goodrich investigated a car found beside a rural road. Goodrich’s bulletproof vest protected him from serious injury. The suspected gunman, 31-year-old Seth Brandon Spangler, was arrested a few hours later after he emerged from a patch of woods and surrendered.
“Kristen is the absolute kindest person anyone would ever meet. … ,” said Nicole Smith, a close friend of Hearne’s since high school in Rockmart. “She went out of her way to help anyone she could. The world could definitely have used 100 more of her. “
In an interview with The Associated Press, Smith said that Hearne adored her family and losing her is devastating.
“She was one of my very best friends,” Smith said. “She was too amazing to even put into words.”
Hearne, 29, was a five-year veteran of the department who worked hard and loved her job, Police Chief Kenny Dodd said. She was married with a 3-year-old son.
“Words can’t express the sorrow and the hurt that we feel right now as an agency,” Dodd said.
Goodrich was a rookie officer who’d been with the department for about six months.
Goodrich had gone to investigate a report of a stolen vehicle just before 11 a.m., and Hearne came as backup. Spangler and Samantha Roof, 22, walked out of a wooded area toward the officers. When the officers began talking to them, they acted suspiciously and Spangler pulled out a handgun and shot both officers, said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Dodd said Spangler was wanted for a probation violation in a neighboring county. Now he faces felony murder and aggravated assault charges in the slaying of Hearne and shooting of Goodrich.
When Spangler emerged from the woods a second time, he was wearing no clothes, Dodd said.