Birmingham police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, loved by school communities, was a 'leader' everywhere

Everywhere he went, Sgt. Wytasha Carter brought love with him.

For instance: one of Carter’s duties at the Birmingham Police Department was serving as a school resource officer and, just like all the other roles he filled during his police career, he fully embraced the gig, Officer Marion Williams said.

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“Whatever school he was at, that became his school. He loved those kids,” Williams told Fox News. “Even when he left and moved to another school, the kids from the past schools still had love for him, the teachers still had love for him.”

Carter, a 44-year-old Air Force veteran, died Jan. 13 after he was shot while investigating a suspected car burglary outside a Birmingham, Ala., nightclub.

Sgt. Wytasha Carter acted as a 'leader' wherever he went, one of his former colleagues says.

Sgt. Wytasha Carter acted as a 'leader' wherever he went, one of his former colleagues says. (Birmingham Police Department)

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Williams says when he was told about Carter's murder, he had trouble processing the news.

“To get that call… at first it was kind of like I didn’t believe it because at the time, in my mind I was thinking… we talked a few days before and I thought he was off that day,” Williams said. “I thought it was bad information, that they didn’t know he didn’t work that day… and got the wrong person. Until I actually walked into the emergency room, and seeing his wife – that’s when it came to me. It’s a feeling that you are just numb – it didn’t really sink in.”

Williams says Carter ended up at the scene of the suspected burglary that night because he “didn’t believe in supervising from the precinct” and it was “something he had to do from a personal standpoint.”

“He was the type where…if we are shorthanded, [his mentality would be] ‘I’m getting out here with my guys, I’m policing right beside you,’” Williams said. “He was willing to get out there and work side by side with patrol officers, that’s why he was there that night.”

The friendship between the two officers goes back years, to when they first met in high school.

Carter, a member and later a drum major with Phillips High School’s marching band, and Williams, then enrolled in an ROTC program at the school, would be among the only students on school grounds in the early mornings, for band and drill practice, respectively.

“At 5:30 a.m., 6 a.m. in the morning he still had a smile on his face, he was joking around,” Williams said.

They kept in touch over the years and Williams helped Carter with his transfer to the Birmingham Police Department. He also worked as a corrections officer with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and had stints with the Leeds and Fairfield Police Departments.

“Everywhere he went he was a leader,” Williams said. “Every department he worked in… he was that go-to person that the other people would lean on for support.”

Carter also made headlines in 2016 for being one of three officers who saved two young girls trapped in the rubble of a home whose roof and chimney had collapsed.

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The city of Birmingham, in a posting on its website about Carter’s death, quoted other colleagues' memories of how Carter liked to sing, especially gospel music. Another role he took on was coaching children’s basketball and baseball teams for the Police Athletic Team league.

“He enjoyed the ability to do good for other people and turn young people around,” said Dwayne Thompson, a Birmingham crime prevention officer. “He wanted to see the city move forward.’’