AIKEN — The Rev. George Howle described how panicked he was when he got the call that Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra E. Rogers had been shot Saturday morning.
He said during a memorial service for Rogers that he jumped in his car and drove as fast as he could to the emergency room at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.
“I think I hit every red light on the way,” Howle said.
He looked over at Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, who was sitting in the stands Wednesday afternoon at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center.
“Are you going to do something about that, mayor?”
Rogers’ service was a mix of laughter and tears as her close friends and co-workers traded stories about a dedicated officer and fun-loving woman.
The officer was shot and killed during a check on a suspicious vehicle around 7:30 Saturday morning in Eustis Park. Joshua Jones, 26, has been charged in her slaying. Jones is also charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Cayce Vice, in Augusta hours earlier.
At Rogers’ service, Howle related a story illustrating that Rogers wasn’t someone to mess with, even when she was a young girl. Howle said her brother’s paycheck was being withheld by his boss at a Hardee’s restaurant, and when he demanded the money, the boss said, “What are you going to do about it?”
He pointed to his little sister and said, “She’s the enforcer.”
The boss bent down to the little girl’s height and repeated his question. At that point she leaned back and gave him a hard right hook to the face, knocking him over.
“I asked him what happened next. He said, ‘I got my paycheck,’” Howle said.
Rogers’ friend and fellow Public Safety officer Daymon Spann spoke of her work ethic. Doing the job halfway was never an option for Rogers.
“Anything less than everything was just not in Sandy’s character,” he said.
She was so thorough, he said, that her shift co-workers would try to finish a call before she got there as backup because she was sure to point out something they missed.
“She was the mother hen,” he said. “She taught me more than any textbook could.”
Rogers was also the rock of the department, he said. At the memorial for Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson a little more than a month ago, she was the one who told the department it had to keep going.
“That’s what we do now, too,” Spann said. “We go on. That’s what she would say.”
Newly appointed Aiken Public Safety Director Charles Barranco said residents and officers with the department would get through the pain together.
“Sandy would expect no less,” he said.
Outside the service, about 57 members of the Patriot Guard, a national organization, surrounded the building holding American flags.
While others paid their respects to Rogers, Patriot Guard members remained alert.
“We don’t ask for anything,” said Bruce Ballou, the state captain. “We just ask to stand and hold the flag. That’s all.”
Another member, Dennis DuPuis, said he joined the organization so he could feel he was contributing.
“It’s something much more tangible than a bumper sticker,” he said. “But it pales in comparison to what police do every day.”