SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — Spartanburg County deputy Kevin Carper was shot and killed in 2007.
Many know the fallen hero’s name, but few have ever heard the story firsthand.
His longtime partner and best friend was at Kevin’s side. He saw him get shot and held him as he died.
Until now, Lieutenant Billy Hopkins has never talked about that day.
“I’ve lived through a police officer’s worst nightmare,” said Hopkins.
To understand their bond, you have to go back.
Kevin Carper and Billy Hopkins were best friends. Both started at the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office around the same time and had three young daughters.
“I loved him like a brother. Even though the brotherhood we share in this line of work runs deep, it was far deeper than what we shared here,” Hopkins described.
Hopkins says he thinks of that Tuesday, when Carper was killed, every day.
It was February 27th, 2007. Carper was on patrol, alone, when he saw a vehicle with an expired tag.
It was the kind of routine traffic stop the 12-year veteran made hundreds, if not thousands, of times before.
When he went to pull the driver over, it turned into a chase.
Hopkins heard it over the scanner, happened to be only seconds away, and joined from another vehicle.
“We basically stopped right here — in front of this tree,” Hopkins described as he took 7News back to the wooded area where his partner was killed.
The driver, Terry Brooks, made a run for it after jumping out of the vehicle.
Hopkins says his partner caught up to Brooks and was putting the cuffs on him when his professional and personal world changed in an instant.
“He [Brooks] pulled a .38 pistol out of his waistband and fired two rounds,” Hopkins described.
Both deputies shot back, but it was too late.
A bullet entered the armhole of Carper’s bulletproof vest. The bullet hit both of his lungs and his heart.
On the 911 recordings, you can hear Hopkins pleading for help.
“You need to get somebody down here!”
Moments later, his brothers and sisters heard the the words they prayed wouldn’t follow:
I’m getting no response.”
Kevin Carper’s watch ended that Tuesday on Midway Park Drive.
In Spartanburg County, every new recruit fills out a ‘Line of Duty Death Packet’ which asks deputies to choose their funeral pallbearers. It also asks them who they would want to tell their family if they die in the line of duty.
After Carper’s death, someone gave Hopkins his packet.
Carper picked the man who ended up holding him as died. “In his writing, it said, ‘my best friend at the office, Billy Hopkins,'” he said.
Perry Brooks died at the hospital.
Brooks was no stranger to the system.
In the two years leading up to Carper’s death, he racked up 20 criminal charges.
When he killed Carper, he was out on bond.
“It certainly is disappointing to me and it’s disappointing to law enforcement, as a whole, that these types of things are so common.”
Spartanburg County has seen 15 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The men represent nine different agencies.
To honor them, a memorial was unveiled Friday, May 13th, 2016.
Each fallen hero has a plaque, engraved with their names and dates their watches ended.
Deputy Kevin Carper’s name is the most recent.
Hopkins hopes it’s the last one added to the memorial.