coronavirus pandemic

Family, Friends Remember Broward Deputy Who Died From COVID-19

Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Shannon Bennett was Florida's first law enforcement death due to the coronavirus

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Almost one year later, the pain is still fresh for Darren Bennett.

"We truly deeply miss Shannon. I think about my brother and best friend every single day," said Darren Bennett, pastor at Calvary Chapel North Miami. 

Darren's brother, Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Shannon Bennett, was Florida's first law enforcement death due to the coronavirus. 

“It’s been just about a year and everything has changed. Our life has dramatically changed. None of us are the same. Shannon has left a gaping hole and a void in all of our hearts because he was just the person that was the heart of the family, the life of every party and the light in the community," said Bennett. 

The 39-year-old had just come back from a trip to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day, but it's unclear how he got infected with COVID-19. The deputy started feeling sick at the onset of the pandemic around March 23rd. His health then quickly deteriorated and he passed away in the hospital on April 3rd. 

“"He was young and he was healthy so it put everyone on high alert," said Bennett. 

The school resource officer at Deerfield Beach Elementary was a 12 year veteran with the Broward Sheriff's Office. 

"While everyone had the luxury to shelter in place and hide from it, my brother was protecting and serving," said Bennett. 

Shannon's death had a major impact on his brother and the South Florida community, but it also resonated with his work family at the Broward Sheriff's Office. 

”I am still to this day in disbelief that my friend is not here with me. I never would have believed that Shannon would have been the one to be gone. Never," said BSO Deputy Nicole Lovett.

Lovett says she misses her daily calls with Shannon. The school resource officer at  Deerfield Beach High School worked with him day in and day out. She says Shannon had a zest for life, was dedicated to his students and the proudly gay deputy was engaged to be married. 

“He was a big advocate of gay rights. He was very proud of what he felt and who he was and he did not hesitate to let everyone know," said Lovett. 

Although Lovett says she'll never get over his death, she still feels his presence. 

”I went through a lot with his death. It hurt. Shannon was everything. You were blessed to be able to call him a friend and have him in your life. Period. So when he left so suddenly, it hurt," said Lovett. 

As his loved ones navigate through the grief, Darren has been leaning on his faith. The pastor was inspired to write a book honoring his brother's memory as he hopes to keep his legacy alive. 

“That was my brother who is now a living legend. And I say living legend because he will live forever. His name will reverberate through Deerfield Beach and this community. He’s not going anywhere. I got him," said Bennett. 

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