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Remembering Officer La’Warrior Sir’Charles Gardner in a special way

By: Staff Reports

When Linda Gardner watched her grandson walk out of her home on Friday, January 17, 2020, little did she know that will be the last time she would see him alive.  It was a normal Friday evening with La’Warrior dropping off his laundry to his grandparents’ house.  He had just recently moved into his own house. On January 18, 2020, the Gardner Family’s whole life would change.  La’Warrior Sir’Charles Gardner, at the age of 21, would become Sumter County’s 1st homicide of 2020.  La’Warrior was fatally shot inside his home as he was protecting the people inside which included one of his sisters.

Pooh or Fresh, as he was called by his family and friends, was the son of La’Warrior Charles Gardner and Anginette Dodson Williams.  He moved in with his paternal grandparents, Linda and Charlie Gardner, when he was 12 years old.  His grandmother recalls with tears in her eyes the day he asked to move in with them. She said he looked into her eyes with a smile that could charm anyone and said “Grandma, I want to live with you because I want to make something out of myself.” In his 21 years of life, he did just that. “He was not afraid of hard work” his grandmother stated.  While in high school, he was enrolled in the dual degree program at South Georgia Technical College. His first job was as a waiter for Madea’s Diner. At the time of his untimely death, he was a correctional officer at Macon State Prison and a Master Barber at Heritage Barbershop.

In the season of remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Gardners are left with a void that can never be filled.  December 19, 2020, God laid on this family’s heart to be a blessing to another family during this season of giving.  Mrs. Gardner said, “This will be the 1st Christmas in 21 years that I have not brought gifts for my grandson. I just want to bless someone who is having a hardship in memory of my grandson”. The search began for the Gardner Family to find someone to bless. “My sister, Julia Sims, and I were trying to find out about a house fire earlier this week. We knew that there was a fire, but we didn’t know who was involved until Friday morning” recalls Mrs. Gardner. When Mrs. Gardner shared her wish for Christmas 2020, her co-worker shared the story of the housefire victims. Mrs. Gardner works with the Sumter County Head Start Program as a Family Service Worker. She comes in contact with hundreds of families within the Sumter County area. On Tuesday night, a family Mrs. Gardner had serviced through the Head Start Program lost everything to a house fire.  The family consisted of 2 adults and 6 children ranging in age from 2 years to 10 years old.  Although this family is displaced during the holiday season, the family of La’Warrior Sir’Charles Gardner placed a smile on all six of the children’s faces.  Toni Stallworth, one of the adults in the fire, said “people in the community have given us clothes, but I didn’t know what the children would open on Christmas morning.  The children are young and don’t know the extent of what has happened.  When I was told that Mrs. Gardner and her family were blessing our children, I couldn’t do anything but smile. Mrs. Gardner had been my Family Service worker twice while I had children enrolled in the program.” Ms. Stallworth went on to say that “Mrs. Gardner is helpful on the job and outside in the community.”  All of the children will wake up Christmas morning to clothes and toys in memory of La’Warrior Sir’Charles Gardner.

Officer Gardner was killed weeks before his only child, Caitlyn Grace Gardner’s, first birthday.   Caitlyn has been the glue that has held this family together.  La’Warrior Gardner, father of Officer Gardner said that “These holidays really hitting different without Fresh, but I’m blessed that he left me a beautiful granddaughter.” Although this Christmas is going to be a little different for the Gardner family, they know Fresh is smiling down on them for being a blessing to the Stallworth and Daniels’ children.