‘Drew lived a legacy:’ Cayce Police reflects on life of Officer Drew Barr one year after his death

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 9:14 PM EDT

CAYCE, S.C. (WIS) - The Cayce Police Department family is remembering the life and legacy of Cpl. Drew Barr, whose watch ended one year ago this week.

Barr was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 24 of last year while responding to a domestic violence call.

Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan said the last year has been long, and the healing process continues for the department.

Cowan has been comforted to see how the community has rallied around the department, and how his officers have rallied around each other.

“I think the biggest thing that we’ve told them is it’s okay to be frustrated, it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be angry, but Drew would want you to continue to fight the good fight, and continue to be out there and continue to be serving on his behalf,” he said.

Cowan has referred to Barr as his “work son,” and said that he was a servant above self.

“He represented what it means to serve community,” he said. “I think that’s the thing we have to remember is that heroic young man represented so many positive things about our community. We see so many bad things going on on TV, we see them going on around the country, and I think the thing that Drew did is he reminded us that there’s still good in the world.”

Former Cayce Police officer Evan Antley, who was shot alongside Barr in 2017 and gave his eulogy, said the last year has been difficult.

Barr’s loss has left a void in his life, he said.

“Barr died doing something he loved, and of course, he was murdered and it was a callous act, but I don’t know of a death that’s more noble,” Antley said. “Out there just doing God’s work, protecting the people in your community, protecting the people you work beside, protecting the people you’ve never even met before, and that’s the kind of what that he did.”

The first thing that comes to mind when Antley thinks of his friend is his smile, he said.

“It could be just a dreary day and his smile could light up a room,” he said. “His attitude towards life, towards the job, towards his friends, towards everything he was doing was just infectious, I mean he was always positive. In a world where everything’s not always positive, you know, he always could find the positive in things.”

Barr’s attitude and his commitment to return to work after the pair were injured together in 2017 inspired Antley in his recovery, he said.

As an example of Barr’s character and heart, Antley recalled a time that he had asked Barr to come help him with a problem at his grandmother’s dock, which had come loose from the pier.

Though he was in the middle of something, Barr came to help.

“He was happy to drop everything at a moment’s notice and just come help me, drive from two counties away and come help,” Antley said.

When asked how Barr’s life can be honored, Antley spoke about service.

“For those that continue to serve, and it could be serving in the law enforcement profession or fire or EMS, public safety, or it could be nurses and teachers and those people that have jobs that just benefit the community, keep doing what you’re doing,” he said. “Keep doing what you’re doing, and do the right thing for the right reason because you’re helping someone. Sooner or later, you’re helping someone. You’re making a positive impact on someone’s life and that’s how we can honor him. Keep supporting each other, and that could be the people you work with, the people in your community, or the people that live on the other side of the train tracks from you.”

Cayce Police has recently unveiled a marker honoring fallen officers.

It pays tribute to Barr, along with Officer William Illingworth Sr., who died in 1991 after an accident he suffered while on duty.

The department also named the intersection of 12th Street and Taylor Road in Cayce after Barr.

Cowan said that while leaving a legacy is important, Barr lived one.

“Drew lived a legacy. He was living and epitomizing what we need to do every day,” he said. “Was he perfect? No. But there’s so many stories about things that he did for other people, whether it was as a firefighter, an EMT, or a police officer, and that’s what it means to live a legacy. That means every single day you’re serving above yourself. You’re putting yourself out there.”

Cowan said that the Barr family has a beacon for the department.

He specifically mentioned Barr’s mother, who he said has inspired him with her strength.

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