FLORENCE, S.C. - A Florida man has been charged with murder and additional crimes in the death of a South Carolina airport public safety officer.
James Edward Bell, 37, of Homestead, Florida, was charged Monday with murder, discharging a firearm into a vehicle, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime after being arrested Sunday, news outlets reported.
According to arrest warrants, Bell shot Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler, 26, during a traffic stop Sunday morning at Florence Regional Airport. Bell initially fled but was later captured by Florence County deputies, officials said.
When officers arrived, Winkeler was dead at the scene next to an empty 9 mm handgun that didn’t belong to him and more than 30 spent shell casings, warrants said.
Bell was found with Winkeler’s weapon and an ammo magazine that matched the gun found near Winkeler’s body, according to the warrants.
Winkeler also volunteered with the Latta Fire Department, which lowered its flag to half-staff Sunday.
“He lost his life doing what he loved the most. Helping people. Jackson was one of the best firefighters that you could ever have on a fire scene,” Dillon Count Fire Lt. Nic Bethea previously told WPDE-TV. “No matter what time of the day it was, Jackson was willing to help.”
A motive for the shooting wasn’t immediately released. Bell was denied bond Tuesday morning. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.