Police Officer Joseph John McGarry

Police Officer Joseph John McGarry

Myrtle Beach Police Department, South Carolina

End of Watch Sunday, December 29, 2002

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Joseph John McGarry

Police Officer Joseph McGarry was shot and killed when he and his partner investigated a suspicious person on North Kings Highway at 12:30 am.

The officers were inside a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant when they observed a group of suspicious people. They asked the four to step out of the restaurant to talk to one of them. As they were talking to the male suspected of involvement in a previous murder, he pulled out a .45 caliber handgun and opened fire, striking Officer McGarry in the head. Officer McGarry's partner returned fire, striking the suspect in the leg.

The suspect and a female friend fled the scene but were later apprehended. The man was charged with murder, resisting arrest, and assault. The male subject was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

In 2008 the South Carolina State Supreme Court overturned the death penalty decision. They said the jurors should have been given the option of convicting the suspect of voluntary manslaughter. The case was later re-tried and the suspect was again sentenced to death.

Officer McGarry had served with the Myrtle Beach Police Department for four years and was assigned to the Street Crimes Unit. He is survived by his fiancee, whom he proposed to five days before he was killed, and by his parents.


  • Age 28
  • Tour 4 years
  • Badge 263

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .45 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to death

suspicious person

Most Recent Reflection

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On December 29 2002 I received a email from Joe. Joe’s email read that he new I would be in Myrtle Beach the up coming week to teach a Under Cover investigators class and he wanted to have me over to his home for dinner so he could introduce me to his fiancé. I had met Joe a couple of years earlier when he was in a Patrol Drug investigation Class. Joe had also taken two other Drug and officer safety classes from me and we had become friends. When I arrived in Myrtle Beach Monday morning December 30 2002 to start my class I was met in the lobby of the hotel by Paul Yurkin and several Myrtle Beach officers I was friends with. I knew something was very wrong when they saw me I could see the tears in their eyes. Paul Yurkin hugged me and told me Joe had been shot in the line of duty on Sunday. Paul and the other officers knew that Joe and I were good friends. I was in total disbelief. It was the hardest day I have had in the 25 years of teaching law enforcement officers. To this day I have the email Joe sent me on my computer. I mention my friend Joe in all of my classes. I teach the officers how my friend loss his life, so that they may be safer. Joe McGarry was a tough guy and a great cop. In July of 2020 I took my son to a softball tournament in Myrt Beach. I had a hour between games and I went to have my car wash. The vehicle inline in front of me had a pro-police sticker on its bumper. When I was paying for the wash I saw a older gentleman with a walker waiting. The gentleman was were a military baseball cap. So I thanked the gentleman for his survive and asked if that was his vehicle with the police sticker. The gentleman said that it was. He then told me he had been in law enforcement and that his son had been killed in the line of duty in Myrtle Beach. I couldn’t control my emotions and he ask if I was ok. I hugged him and told him of my friendship with is son and the email I received December 29 2002. Joe’s father and I talked for twenty minutes and we exchanged our information so when I get back to Myrtle Beach I can meet Joes mom and his Fiancé to hopefully have that dinner Joe wanted me to have back in 2002. Joe I know you sent me to that car wash. Rest In Peace my friend.

Detective Tracy Sparshott
Montgomery County Maryland

July 31, 2020

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