Shooting victim makes final journey as a hero


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A husband, father and Army veteran shot to death in downtown Aiken will live on after completing his final act of bravery.

We’ve told you about Larry Swearingen, a 42-year-old gunned down while on Lauren’s Street and Columbia Avenue last Tuesday. Now, we share about his life as an artist and animated dog lover who fought for his country.

Full of life and laughter. That pretty much sums up Larry Swearingen.

He died last Saturday from his injuries. He was shot in downtown Aiken, South Carolina. It’s the same place his good friend, Sharissa Cox , has her more fond memories of him.

“He goes you can sell ice to an Eskimo, Sharissa,” she said.

His wife, Jess Swearingen, finished the story.

“Because you brought three fosters and all of them were adopted.”

An animal lover from the start, Lars as he was affectionately called, ran his own animal rescue, L.E.A.S.H. Squad, with his wife, Jess and a little extra help from his friend Sharissa.

“You’re talking about a man who slept in the freaking kennel in Wagener on the ground in hay, in piles of hay surrounded by dogs to keep him warm because we were on the verge of possibly losing our shelter at the time,” his wife told us.

His other love, his 8-year-old daughter Savannah. And between the two of them nothing was off limits.

Cox told us of the pair, “He wanted her to be wild and outgoing and different and the weird kid.”

Jess Swearingen added, “An unbreakable bond is definitely what they had. I wish more kids got to experience that with fathers because he loved her to death.”

But for Savannah a different type of experience, a brave one as Swearingen took his final HERO walk.

Augusta University Medical Center Staff paused to give him honor, fitting for Corporal Larry Swearingen.

“He was proud of his unit, 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles.” That’s why I chose that flag versus an American flag,” his wife said of his military flag that she draped over him ahead of donating his organs.

A hero indeed, Swearingen lives on after donating his heart, kidneys and pancreas.

“That one last memory. That one last walk. That one moment,” Cox said of the experience she captured on her cell phone.

“They got big shoes to fill because he had a real big heart,” his wife exclaimed.

His wife also told me she hopes to one day hear her husband’s heartbeat again.

A 17 year old is charged with the murder, he is in jail without bond.

To help the Swearingen family, click here.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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