Community steps up as officer recovers from attack at Spartanburg Walmart


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Nearly a week after a Spartanburg police officer was attacked inside a Walmart store, we’re hearing how he’s doing and what the community is doing for him as he recovers.

“Erin is a very driven individual,” Lieutenant Leslie McDonald said. “He loves his job. He loves helping people.”

Lieutenant Leslie McDonald is Spartanburg Police Officer Erin Hansen’s direct supervisor and she’s gotten to know him pretty well.

“Just a great all-around human being and a great officer,” she said.

When Lt. McDonald found out what happened to Officer Hansen at the Dorman Centre Walmart last Thursday, she was devastated.

“One of the scariest things that you have to deal with in law enforcement is when you find out a fellow officer is injured,” she said. “And when it’s one of your own, your very own–not just in your agency, but works directly for you–it’s just an added terrifying feeling.”

Hansen was off-duty and working security at Walmart when police say James Cunningham ran over and started attacking him for no apparent reason.

Hansen was reportedly knocked unconscious and Cunningham tried to take Hansen’s weapon but was not successful.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Sarah Petty said. “I was heartbroken for him and his family. It was just so senseless.”

Sarah Petty is the owner of Hub City Delivery and, when she learned what happened, she immediately wanted to help, so she donated a $100 gift card to help cover the officer’s meals while he recovers.

“I didn’t think twice about it,” Petty said. “I would’ve done it 100 times over. I’m just glad it helped them.”

Hansen’s supervisor said his recovery is going a lot better than expected.

“It is an absolute blessing and, by the grace of God, he is not hospitalized,” Lt. McDonald said.

McDonald told 7 News it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the good samaritans who stepped in to help.

“You are my heroes and you all are angels. Because, without you, Erin would not be as good as he is today,” McDonald said. “I’m in tears over what you guys did. It is an absolutely amazing thing that you guys have done and I will forever be grateful for that.”

McDonald said she’s also thankful for people like Petty who’ve continued to show their support.

“Every little thing you do that shows him, and the rest of us, that you care makes what we do in today’s climate absolutely worth it, and it just solidifies the fact that we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons for the right people,” McDonald said.

“I certainly appreciate all of the police officers here in Spartanburg, and I just wish him a fast and speedy recovery. And we are always here if they ever need anything,” Petty said.

Police told 7 News many community members have sent cards, money, and gift cards for Hansen’s family.

7 News reached out to Walmart about the incident. The employee who helped save Hansen did not want to go on camera, but Walmart told us they are proud of the way he stepped in to help.

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