'Their world is just falling in around them’: Family of fallen Florence officer appears at accused killer’s bond hearing

Updated: Jan. 7, 2020 at 5:30 PM EST
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – The family of a fallen Florence airport officer came face-to-face with his accused killer.

On Tuesday morning, 37-year-old James Edward Bell stood before a judge for a bond hearing. He is charged with murder, armed robbery, discharging a firearm into a vehicle while occupied and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Authorities said he shot and killed 26-year-old officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler during a traffic stop at the Florence Regional Airport early Sunday morning.

Florence community mourns the loss of the officer fatally shot at Florence Regional Airport
Florence community mourns the loss of the officer fatally shot at Florence Regional Airport(Emily Wakeman)

Winkeler's family members, along with their pastor, were at Tuesday's bond hearing.

"They are crushed obviously, they are in complete shock,” Pastor James Orr said. “Their world is just falling in around them."

RELATED STORY: ‘You could always count on him’: Pee Dee communities honor fallen airport officer

Orr said this is the latest death for the family; Winkeler's brother died in a car accident in 2001.

"That event was bad enough and the circumstances surrounding this event are just so much worse," Orr said.

On Jan. 5, authorities said Winkeler pulled Bell over at the Florence Regional Airport. During the traffic stop, Bell allegedly shot and killed the officer.

Orr said Winkeler had just passed his law enforcement exam and was set to start the Criminal Justice Academy soon.

"He’s got family and friends all in law enforcement. It’s been a big part of his life, so this was his dream and he was living that,” he said.

As for Bell, Orr said despite what he's allegedly done, he too will be included in his prayers.

Bond was not set for the defendant during Tuesday’s hearing. The judge noted that Bell has an extensive criminal record and does qualify for a public defender.

Bell’s next court dates are April 30 and June 5 at 9 a.m., where a circuit court judge is expected to set bond.

Visitation for Winkeler will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Pyerian Baptist Church located at 2813 Pyerian Road in Latta.

His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Florence Center at 3300 W. Radio Drive.

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