She made time for the community’s needs as a five-year veteran with the Polk County police department, but she put family — especially her ailing mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in April — first.
“My daughter was right there beside me all the way even after I came home,” Hearne’s mother Trish Brewer told Channel 2 Action News on Friday night, hours after her 29-year-old daughter was shot and killed in the line of duty by a felon. “... She still helped me and still took care of me. That’s the type of person she was.”
Seth Brandon Spangler, 31, is accused of shooting Hearne and rookie Polk County police officer David Goodrich, who had responded to a report of a stolen car out of Tennessee.
Right now: I’m meeting with Det. Kristen Hearne’s family. She was killed in the line of duty today in Polk County. pic.twitter.com/vGwGjnND1u— Chris Jose (@ChrisJoseWSB) September 29, 2017
After an intensive manhunt in rural northwest Georgia, Spangler was arrested about 2:45 p.m. — completely naked, with dirt still on his face. He and a second suspect, Samantha Roof, 22, were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
Hearne was shot at least four times and taken to a local hospital, where she later died. She leaves behind a husband, Matt Hearne, and their 3-year-old son Isaac.
Goodrich, who had been on the force for only six months, was shot in the chest but survived. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, according to Channel 2, but Hearne — who offered backup on her own accord — wasn’t. According to the GBI medical examiner, due to the location of the fatal wound, it is highly unlikely that a ballistic vest would have prevented her death.
Hearne is the first Polk police officer to die in the line of duty.
Earlier in the day, Spangler and Roof came out of the woods and acted suspiciously as Hearne and Goodrich questioned them about the stolen car, according to GBI Director Vernon Keenan. At that point, Spangler pulled out a handgun and shot both officers, then ran back into the woods with Roof, Keenan said.
Samantha Roof's booking photo has been released. pic.twitter.com/6nmI2bD0nw— GA Bureau of Invest (@GBI_GA) September 30, 2017
“It was more or less an ambush,” Polk County police Chief Kenny Dodd said at a news conference. “(Spangler) drew the gun before they knew what happened.”
While Roof was quickly apprehended, a “Blue Alert” was issued for Spangler, making it the first time the GBI had activated the emergency alert. It was established by legislation in 2010 “to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers.”
Officers from multiple agencies spotted Spangler on Cave Spring Road just north of Cedartown after an hours-long effort and took him into custody without incident.
Fighting back tears at a news conference, Dodd called the shooting a “senseless killing.”
“We lost a very fine police officer … words can’t express the sorrow and the hurt that we feel right now as an agency,” he said, calling Hearne kind, hardworking and dedicated.
Spangler, who had active warrants for a probation violation, was released from state prison in Reidsville in August 2016 after serving slightly more than a year, according to the state Department of Corrections website. He was convicted of methamphetamine possession and a weapons charge in Walker County in 2015, records show.
RELATED: What is a Blue Alert?
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER: Know what’s really going on with crime and public safety in your metro Atlanta community. Get the latest breaking crime news, trial coverage, trends and unsolved cases. Sign up for our AJCnewsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: The AJC’s crime and public safety Facebook group is your source for breaking news.