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Hundreds pay respect to fallen Georgia police officer

Hundreds of people filled a Georgia church Tuesday to say their goodbyes to a fallen police officer. / Photo: MGN Online

Hundreds of people filled a Georgia church Tuesday to say their goodbyes to a fallen police officer.

Services were held at Victory Baptist Church in Rockmart for Polk County police Detective Kristen Hearne, who was fatally shot Friday when she and Officer David Goodrich investigated a stolen car found beside a rural road. Goodrich's bulletproof vest protected him from serious injury.

The suspected gunman, Seth Brandon Spangler, 31, was arrested a few hours later, after he emerged from a patch of woods and surrendered. He faces felony murder and aggravated assault charges in the slaying of Hearne and shooting of Goodrich.

Also facing felony charges is Samantha Roof, 22, who was with Spangler at the time of the shooting.

Dozens of Hearne's co-workers filed past her flag-draped coffin at the front of the packed church to sit in the choir stand behind the pulpit.

Hearne became the first officer in the 60-year history of the Polk County Police Department to die in the line of the duty. She was a graduate of Rockmart High School and had been with the department for five years.

Police Chief Kenny Dodd told those gathered that Hearne, 29, was "always willing to go that extra mile."

"In John, Chapter 15, Verse 13, it says: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' That's exactly what happened on Friday. Kristen Hearne gave her life and will always be remembered as a hero by this agency and by Polk County," Dodd said.

Dodd said Hearne had a vibrant personality and a "smile that could light up a room."

"She had a big heart ... and the spirit of a warrior," he said. "She was dependable and her work ethic was above reproach."

He said the day of the shooting, she offered to back up Goodrich, a rookie who had been with the department for just six months.

"Kristen, being Kristen, decided she would go and help," he said.

Hearne's mother, Trish Brewer, thanked her daughter's colleagues and friends for their support of the family since the slaying.

"Friday made no sense whatsoever," she said, while holding her 3-year-old grandson, Isaac.

"I can never tell them thank you enough," Brewer said, looking at the faces in the audiences. "I just want everyone to know: Thank you, and we love you from the bottom of our hearts."

In addition to her mother and son, Hearne is survived by her husband, Matt Hearne; her father, Ron Brewer; and four brothers.

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