National

‘Always going to feel her presence.’ Family, community were life of ambushed officer

Listen to police audio from SC officer shooting: “This situation is not getting any better”

Listen to this audio from police radio traffic after a suspect shot multiple law enforcement officers in West Florence, South Carolina, Oct. 3, 2018.
Up Next
Listen to this audio from police radio traffic after a suspect shot multiple law enforcement officers in West Florence, South Carolina, Oct. 3, 2018.

When she was a child and early teenager Farrah Turner, better known as Maxine to her family and friends, would spend summers going to a nursing home in Lake City, South Carolina, to give elderly people company and comfort. Even in her youth, Turner felt a duty to serve her community, her cousin Britney Weaver said.

“Her goal has always been this sense of community and to bring people together and give back,” said Weaver, now an attorney. “She wore many different hats in the community because that was what was fulfilling to her.”

Turner died Monday, 19 days after a man ambushed sheriff’s deputies and investigators who went to search a home near Florence, South Carolina. Turner was one of those investigators. Family members described her as faithful, devoted and funny, who made a real impact on people’s lives.

Tributes poured in from around the country for the officer who had been in critical condition for almost three weeks since the shooting.

On October 3, investigators say, Turner and other officers went to interview Seth Hopkins, 28, about allegations that he sexually assaulted minors.

Police say Seth Hopkins’ adopted father, Frederick Hopkins, 74, opened fire with a rifle and two pistols from a second-floor window, ambushing the officers. When the hours-long standoff was over, both Seth and Frederick Hopkins were arrested and one officer, 30-year police veteran Terrance Carraway, was dead, and six others were injured.

Two other deputies injured in the shooting left the hospital over the weekend. Deputies Sarah Miller and Arie Davis were both shot. Police said the older Hopkins and officers exchanged more than 400 shots during the standoff.

Frederick Hopkins faces charges of murder and attempted murder. Seth Hopkins has been arrested and charged with two separate counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Turner remained in critical condition until Monday.

A funeral service for Turner will be held on Sunday, October 28, 2018, beginning at noon at the Florence Center located at 3300 West Radio Road in Florence, SC. Interment will follow the funeral service at Florence Memorial Gardens located at 3320 South Cashua Drive,Florence, SC.

To Weaver, Turner’s impact on her community and family will last for generations to come.

“You’re always going to feel her presence,” Weaver said “We’ll be sure her name and legacy resonates in hearts and minds in everyone”

A “big sister” for many

The path to Turner becoming a police officer and investigator began early, Weaver believes. The sense of community and service needed to be a good public servant came from Turner’s mother, Katie Godwin.

“Her mother is very big on caring for people, showing people that you love them and just being good people,” Weaver said. “It was part of our upbringing — to teach us early on that if you have something to give, you give it.”

What Turner gave to her entire extended family from a young age was a loving and anchoring presence.

“She always took her role as big sister or big cousin very seriously,” Weaver said. “She’s always been the responsible one. She was responsible but fun.”

Every niece, nephew and anyone else in the family was loved by Turner as if they were a child of her own, family members said.

Turner graduated from Lake City High School in 2000 and continued her education at Francis Marion University. In college, she became more in touch with people from across Florence County and the state. Turner realized that she wanted to serve the people and place that helped her grow, Weaver believes.

“I think the impact that those folks (in college) had on her really resonated with her and she decided to take her talents to Florence County Sheriff’s Office,” Weaver said. “She was welcomed and loved there.”

Turner was in law enforcement for 12 years including time as a school resource officer at several area schools, reported Shamira McCray of the Florence Morning News.

Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said in a statement that Turner “was the ultimate professional, excelling at everything she did. She dedicated her life to serving the victims of the worst crimes imaginable.”

Turner was always trying to better the lives of others, according to Weaver.

“She was able to touch many lives,” she said.

Support for more than a deputy

Even those who had small interactions with Turner felt her caring touch, according to friends and acquaintances.

Many Sundays Turner did off-duty hours to provide security for First Presbyterian Church in Florence.

“The church folks really loved her a whole bunch,” Assistant Pastor Chris Handley said. “That says something about her. She wasn’t involved with our church as a member but people loved her.”

Turner was a community servant and so much more, many people familiar with her said.

Turner’s cousin Rhonda Dollard described her as laid back and funny, according to WBTW. Social media rallied for Turner as she was in critical condition with the hashtag #FightFarrahFight.

Dollard said the hashtag fit her cousin, who was a fighter. “The first time I saw it, it came from some family members and church members. I saw it and I was like ‘Yeah, we gotta run with this.’ Let’s make sure we keep it out there. The more prayers the better,” Dollard said, according to WBTW.

“Just listening to some of the stories of some of the people who she has arrested that have come back just to sit and pray with her and let the family know how much of an effect she had on their lives. That part just has me in awe every time I hear it,” Dollard told WBTW.

Screenshot (281).jpg
A GoFundMe was started for Florence County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Farrah Turner, who was shot during a two hour shoot-out earlier this month.

“She has devoted her life to protecting others, so now it is time that we do our part to show our appreciation for her service and commitment,” according to a GoFundMe campaign set up before Turner died.

“She is a phenomenal, selfless woman of faith and a true hero to her community through her profession and membership with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,” according to the fundraiser site.

The GoFundMe page shared by Turner’s mother notes that she had nine surgeries after the shooting and both of her feet had to be amputated.

After the announcement of Turner’s death, a new hashtag popped up. #FlyFarrahFly.

Sheriff Boone said deputies had gathered with Turner’s mother and family at the hospital, and that her mother stayed by her side, according to WPDE.

The station reports that Turner was the investigator who filed the paperwork to search the Hopkins home for evidence of possible sex crimes by Seth Hopkins.

If a person didn’t know her close relative, Weaver said she’d tell them this;

Maxine was strong, independent, and the light of our lives. She was loving, honest, hardworking, and God fearing,” Weaver said. “She’s the type of person that when she commits she’s going to give it all she has until there’s nothing left to give.”

A memory says it all

To Weaver, Turner was going to be even more of a rock for their family’s future.

“You never expect a person at the peak of their career ... to leave us at 36,” Weaver said. “We would have definitely expected for Maxine to be our (family) leader.”

The friend and family member Weaver and others knew as Maxine lives on in many ways, her cousin said. One way is in a memory that Weaver has.

Before Weaver left to get a law degree, her cousin called her up and asked if she had everything she needed for school. Weaver thought she was as prepared as she could be. Turner told her cousin to stop by her house anyway.

“She gave me several items out of her home for me to take to my new place,” Weaver remembered. “She didn’t have to do that. I didn’t ask for it. She just gave it to me.”

Then when Weaver graduated, her cousin called to say she wanted to do something special for the moment.

“She bought my dress for graduation, my shoes, my jewelery and as she always does, she said ‘Here’s a couple dollars for your pocket’,” Weaver said. “It just shows how selfless and considerate she is all the time.”

Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting

David Travis Bland: @dtravisbland

Farrah Turner Sarah Miller Arie Davis.jpg
Florence County Sheriff’s Office deputies Farrah Turner (left), Sarah Miller and Arie Davis. Courtesy of the Florence County Sheriff's Office

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments