ROCKMART, Ga. — Hundreds of people filled a Georgia church Tuesday to say their goodbyes to a fallen officer, allegedly killed by a Chattanooga area man with a long history of drug arrests.
Services were held at Victory Baptist Church in Rockmart for Polk County police Detective Kristen Hearne, who was fatally shot Friday when she and Officer David Goodrich investigated a stolen car found beside a rural road. Goodrich's bulletproof vest protected him from serious injury.
The suspected gunman, Seth Brandon Spangler, 31, was arrested a few hours later, after he emerged from a patch of woods and surrendered.
Dozens of Hearne's co-workers filed past her flag-draped coffin at the front of the packed church to sit in the choir stand behind the pulpit.
Police chief Kenny Dodd told those gathered that Hearne would always be remembered as a hero.
Local records show Spangler moved through several homes in the greater Chattanooga area for more than a decade, from Old Haven Drive to Hixson Pike and places in Rossville, Flintstone and Chickamauga. No matter where he was, drug addiction entangled him.
In 2007, Chattanooga police charged Spangler with possession of a controlled substance when they found his neighbor's hydrocodone pills in his pockets. Three months later, he was arrested in Catoosa County after he stole some units from Vann Air Systems.
He pleaded guilty to the second offense in October 2009, receiving eight years' probation. The Walker County Sheriff's Office next arrested him in March 2011 on a cruelty to children charge after he slapped a 4-year-old boy in a Flintstone mobile home on Williams Park Drive.
He pleaded guilty to that charge in June 2011, receiving 10 years' probation. A judge also ordered him to attend parenting classes and substance abuse counseling. (The victim of the abuse was not his son, though he has at least one child.)
Spangler violated his probation in February 2013 and July 2014, both times for using methamphetamine. In September 2014, his father called Chattanooga police, explaining that Spangler was wanted again for violating his probation and could be found at the Taco Bell on Broad Street. There an officer found Spangler and a syringe, which he said he used to shoot up methamphetamine "or anything he could get his hands on," the officer wrote in the report.
Spangler was last arrested locally in May 2015, when he crashed a truck into a pole on Wilson Road around 6:30 one morning. He continued driving the truck for another quarter mile before it died, according to the report. A Georgia State Patrol trooper arrested him on charges including hit and run.
At the Walker County Jail, an officer told him to take a shower. Surveillance video showed him pull out a blue plastic baggie and toss it over his shoulder. Officers found the bag, along with the methamphetamine inside.
Questioned by an officer, Spangler denied the drugs were his. But when pressed, he conceded he would test positive for methamphetamine, marijuana and Adderall.
A judge sentenced him to two years in prison. The State Board of Pardons & Parole released him in August 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.