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Honoring the fallen: Community joins to remember slain officer

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

CONYERS -- Thousands of people became an extended family as they united to say a final farewell to Investigator Brian Lamar Mahaffey, a fallen Rockdale County Sheriff's Office deputy who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Mahaffey was shot and killed Saturday in the line of duty while he and other investigators in the RCSO Narcotics and Vice Unit served an arrest warrant at a house off Honey Creek Road.

Family, friends, co-workers and the community packed the pews of the main floor and balcony of the First Baptist Church of Conyers Wednesday afternoon to memorialize Mahaffey.

Scores of white-gloved, uniformed police officers and law enforcement deputies wearing reflective brass sat in the choir loft during a funeral service that included songs, prayer and a photo slide show of Mahaffey with his family.

"We're here to honor one who gave his life and service to his community," Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington said. "We've all come together to honor this young hero."

Mahaffey, 28, was a life-long Conyers resident and joined the RCSO in 2005. He started out as a detention deputy in the jail, then progressed to join the Uniform Patrol Division. Mahaffey became an investigator with the Narcotics and Vice Unit in 2009.

"Brian had a very large family, extended family, but he was part of another, very, very large family," Wigington said, referring to the law enforcement fraternity.

More than 45 different police departments and law enforcement agencies from Georgia and out-of-state paid their respects to Mahaffey, referred to as a "brother."

A couple of RCSO deputies recounted times they shared with Mahaffey.

"Brian was always a jokester. I can't tell you what we joked about," Investigator Scott Stewart said, receiving a light laugh from the congregation.

Stewart told tales of fishing trips with Mahaffey.

Investigator Jake Coggins followed to tell of Mahaffey's love for cars and stereos. Coggins also testified to Mahaffey's character that genuinely reflected a public servant.

"At any time, he would've given the shirt off his back or even walk to the end of the world to help a friend in need," Coggins said.

Mahaffey's sister-in-law, Michaela Simoes, described Mahaffey's home life as a husband and father. Simoes pledged that Mahaffey's memory will stay with the two children he left behind.

"Not a day will go by that they will wonder if he loved them," Simoes said of 2-year-old Trenton and 3-month-old Anniston.

Ebenezer Methodist Church senior pastor Robert Winstead said it was incomprehensible and "terribly unfair" how a good father and loving son as Mahaffey was taken away.

"And that's just it. It makes no sense," Winstead said. "Life's deepest questions have no easy answers."

But through the sound of sniffles and the sight of white tissues, Winstead assured the crowd, in and out of uniform.

"We know in this place are people who love and love deeply," Winstead said. "We'll get through this hour and the days to come."