Officer Allen Jacobs died in a hail of gunfire Friday afternoon while chasing a “confirmed and self-described gang member” who then turned the gun on himself, Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said.
Jacobs, a 28-year-old officer and decorated Iraq War veteran, leaves behind a pregnant wife and two young sons, Miller said.
“We lose. We hurt. We ache,” Miller said. “No one wants to lose their officers.”
Addressing the media several hours later at City Hall in downtown Greenville, Miller said Jacobs’ gun was still holstered when he was shot by the suspect, 17-year-old Deontea Perry Mackey, about 12:30 p.m. behind a house in the Nicholtown community.
Jacobs and his partner were on patrol when they spotted Mackey on Rebecca Street and pulled over for a field interview, Miller said. The police chief said they weren’t trying to serve a warrant as he had earlier stated.
But Mackey instead ran, leading officers on a foot chase that snaked through woods and behind houses.
Jacobs, Miller said, was “quite fit and quite fast” and kept pace with the suspect. About 20 seconds after the chase was called in on police radio, a second report came of shots fired.
Eleven seconds later, as Jacobs rounded a house near the intersection of Ackley Road, his partner radioed in, saying an officer was down.
Jacobs was struck multiple times, despite wearing a bulletproof vest.
Other officers gave him CPR, and Jacobs was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital, where he died, Miller said.
The suspect kept running for about a half mile, crossing onto Baxter Street toward a spur to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Two officers were there waiting. Cornered, Miller said officers saw the suspect call his mother before taking his own life.
Miller said Mackey was listed as a gang member in a national police database, though he would not identify the gang.
“His prior history is a violent history,” Miller said.
Flags were flying at half-staff in front of City Hall Friday afternoon as officers mourned the loss of one of their own. The last Greenville officer killed in the line of duty was Russ Sorrow, who was ambushed and shot by a wanted suspect on Sept. 19, 1996.
Jacobs had strong ties to the community, Miller said. He was the son of two Bob Jones University faculty members and a four-year veteran on the police force.
“This is everyone’s worse nightmare,” Miller said. “He was out doing our work. He’s a member of our community, and he was out there trying to keep us safe.”
In Nicholtown, neighbors called neighbors in disbelief as crowds began gathering on nearly every corner of the historically black community.
Outside a former “street club” that’s now a church with a white pastor, three women prayed for the suspect’s mother.
One of the women, Stephanie Lowden, said her son grew up playing with the suspect.
“He was a good child. He was really kind of quiet. He was a quiet kid. But they always bothered him, the police, and say he was in a gang,” Lowden said.
Miller said Jacobs was part of the police department’s Community Response Team and was working to identify and engage gang members in the Nicholtown community.
In May 2014, Jacobs was injured on the job after he was struck by a car playing loud music outside an apartment building.
“He has served with distinction,” Miller said.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting and has collected shell casings from the scene. Jacob’s broken body camera was also taken as evidence.
At this point, authorities believe no shots were fired by the officers who responded to the scene.
On Saturday, funeral arrangements for Jacobs were announced.
A fund has also been set up at TD Bank to help Jacobs’ family, and donations can be made at any branch in the city of Greenville.
Staff writer Nathaniel Cary contributed.