She was a mother. A wife. A daughter.
And on Friday, Kristen Hearne became the first officer in the 60-year history of the Polk County Police Department to die in the line of the duty.
Hearne and Polk County Police Officer David Goodrich were investigating a stolen car on Santa Claus Road Friday morning when authorities said Seth Brandon Spangler and Samantha Roof came out of the woods.
The two were acting strangely when, according to police, Spangler took out a handgun and began firing.
Goodrich was struck in his bulletproof vest and survived.
Hearne was not so fortunate. She passed away from injuries suffered in the shooting.
She was 29 years old.
"Words can't express the sorrow, and the hurt that we feel right now as a agency, and our heart goes out to the family," Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd said. "Kristen was the type of officer who lit up any room that she was in. You always knew when she was present."
Law enforcement ran in Hearne's blood, Dodd said. Her husband is a police officer in Aragon, Ga., Dodd said.
"[Law enforcement] was very important to her, and you could tell that by the way she did her job," Dodd said.
The loss is a first for Polk County Police.
"All of the officers are devastated," Dodd said.
Th Polk County Sheriff's Department and Cedartown Police are assisting the department handle calls while the officers deal with the heartbreak.
"We're such a small county with 40,000 people, you just think it'll never happen here," Dodd said. "It's nothing you're ever prepared for, regardless of what size agency it is. We're just heartbroken."
Hearne was a graduate of Rockmart High School. She had been with the department for five years and had obtained the status of detective, Dodd said. She had a bulletproof vest in the vehicle, but Dodd said it's "not common for investigators to wear a vest all of the time."
Dodd noted that she was at the scene as back-up.
"She got out thinking she was going to recover a stolen vehicle," Dodd said. "And then those guys came out of the woods, and it happened so fast."
Hearne was the mother of a 3-year-old child, Dodd said.
Roof was apprehended a short time after the shooting. Spangler surrendered to police after a multi-agency manhunt.
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