FLORENCE, S.C. – Five days after dying in the line of duty in an ambush, Florence police Sgt. Terrence Carraway was celebrated Monday as a brave, compassionate hero who impacted the lives of many people.
“My brothers and my sisters, we gather here not because Sgt. Carraway has died; we are here because he lived,” said Cecil Bromell, the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Darlington.
Several thousand law enforcement officers, first responders, family members and community members filled the Florence Center for the funeral services and Carraway’s last call.
Carraway died Wednesday during a shooting after serving with the city of Florence Police Department for nearly 31 years.
Members of multiple law enforcement agencies came to the funeral from across the state, including sheriffs and officers from Mount Pleasant, Sumter, Spartanburg, Marion, Aynor and Georgetown. State political figures, such as S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, also attended the funeral.
The Macedonia Baptist Church Combined Choirs performed multiple gospel songs throughout the service.
During the funeral, several members of the community shared pieces of Carraway’s character through stories of compassion and servitude.
Michael Wright, a deacon at Macedonia Baptist Church where Carraway was a member, said he cried on the way to the Florence Center because someone had Mentos, and Carraway always had Mentos for the choir, which was a small connection he had to Carraway. Wright said he, along with many people, have a small connection to Carraway like his.
“He made sure everyone had a small connection to him,” Wright said.
Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela referenced the beatitudes, calling Carraway a peacemaker in the community.
“In a world where it seems sometimes that everyone is angry, Sgt. Terrence Carraway was a peacemaker,” Wukela said. ”Carraway was a peacemaker. To be sure, he was tough. He had a spirit of determination and courage that was on display Wednesday afternoon.”
Wukela spoke of Carraway as a man who was brave and firm but who also was humorous and joyful. Wukela said Carraway could bring peacefulness and order to the most difficult and painful situations, which Wukela challenged the Florence community to do in response to the death of Carraway.
“We grieve together today, a community in pain, and we too may be tempted by this world around us to be filled with anger, bitterness and hatred with the desire of vengeance," Wukela said. "We must aspire to that standard set for us by Carraway, set for us by our peacemaker."
Florence County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Stevie Mumford was 20 years old when he first met Carraway and felt connected to Carraway because he wore the same uniform as Mumford's father.
Mumford went on many ride-alongs with Carraway. Mumford said Carraway loved what he was doing, and he would always say you can’t just play with the job.
Mumford’s laughter turned to tears while talking about Carraway being a forever friend, one who stays by you through it all.
“I say to you, my forever friend, you will always have a place in my heart, my forever friend Sgt. Terrence Carraway,” Mumford said.
Darlington County Sheriff Tony Chavis said being a police officer was exactly what Carraway was put on the earth to do: to serve his God, his country and his people.
“That’s what you do when you do something for 30-plus years,” Chavis said. “It’s much more than just a job; it’s a commitment to who you are to the people.”
Chavis said Carraway was an ambassador, mentor and bridge to the community. He said Carraway was always there no matter the time of day, and he left footprints in the lives of those he came in contact with.
City of Darlington Police Chief Kelvin Washington said he met Carraway in 1990. He called Carraway a “friend who sticks closer than a brother,” as it says in Proverbs 18:24.
Carraway and his wife, Allison, were present when Washington got married and even let them use their wedding bands for the ceremony, because they didn’t have bands at the time. Carraway also asked Washington to be the godfather is his oldest child.
Washington said he would describe Carraway with the word bravery.
“For those of you who had the pleasure of working with him, you know that he wasn’t afraid of anything,” Washington said. “I can almost assure you that he didn’t hesitate last week when he responded to that call. That’s what he does. That’s what he always does.”
Washington also reflected on advice that Carraway gave him, and that was to “never be afraid, and if you are afraid, don’t let anybody know that you’re afraid.”
Master Sgt. Jerry Henning from the 315th Security Forces Squadron spoke of the retired technical sergeant as a mentor and encourager to younger troops within the squadron who set an example for others to follow.
“Terrence always takes the time to help the younger troops,” Henning said. “He would provide encouragement to complete the task no matter how challenging it was and would have fun doing it. You see, Terrence has a gift. He has that smile. He has that laughter. He would make your day no matter how hard, no matter how challenging it was going to be.”
In 2002, Carraway was named as one of 12 outstanding airmen in the Air Force, Henning said.
Some family members and close friends spoke of the impact Carraway had in their lives.
Carraway, who was buried at Florence Memorial Gardens, was the reason his son Tislam Blathers decided to put a law enforcement uniform on. He gave his father a final salute.
Blathers said his father cared for all people.
"To know him is to love him, and you got no choice but to love him," Blathers said. "He was more than just a police officer. He's a legend."