LAKE CITY, SC (WBTW) – Residents of Pee Dee remembered Lt. John Stewart of the Lake City Police Department on Saturday. He died in the line of duty on Friday.
One of Stewart’s former colleagues called him a mentor.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” said Belita Salters, who worked with Stewart from 2017 to 2019. “It was like no words could describe it. Why?”
Flowers, a wreath and US Marine Corps memorabilia now adorn Stewart’s police truck. Lake City Police Chief Jody Cooper turned on the truck’s lights and adorned his thin blue line badge on Saturday afternoon.
“Everyone is saddened by this news right now,” Salters said. “Prayers to his family, to all the law enforcement officers who knew him, even in the army. Everybody.”
Belita Salters is a Domestic Violence Investigator for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. During her first job in law enforcement, she worked alongside Stewart in the Lake City Police Department.
“No matter what time it was, who it was, you could call him and he would definitely be there for you,” Salters said.
She said he always knew how to make others laugh and recalled a CPR class he enthusiastically rushed into to put a defibrillator on the dummy.
“He stood up and said, ‘I got it!’ And put it on the mannequin, ”Salters said. “He was just sitting there like a clown and I was laughing to death.”
Salters said that after leaving Lake City PD, she regularly received Facetime calls from Stewart and the rest of the department.
“We haven’t lost a link, a connection. We didn’t have to talk every day, but when they called me I knew who it was, ”Salters said. “Brogdon and Stewart were on the phone, ready to talk.”
She said Stewart had always urged her to join the Lake City Police Department, which he called “The Dream Team.”
“We have lost a hero, a mentor,” said Salters. “He’s just an amazing person and will really, really miss him.”