LAKE CITY, Fla. – The Lake City Police Department is still reeling at the loss of a rookie police officer with a life and career ahead of her.
As investigators released a statement saying there was nothing suspicious in the nature of the fire, local residents are also mourning after Officer Brandi Jackson died in a house fire Thursday.
Jackson (pictured below) grew up in the town. She was only in her mid-20s and was a mother of two. A large number of people are expected to attend her funeral next week.
"I would say most of the people know about it or are shocked," one Lake City resident said.
"My heart breaks for her babies," resident Faye Clark said. "It's amazing how many people know about it."
Jackson died in the fire that destroyed a west Lake City home early Thursday morning. Since her death, the staff at the Police Department is still going to work, but at the same time is helping Jackson's family.
"Our chief of police is a very loving person and has been with the family extensive hours, and I know we have couple of employees today that are with the children themselves," Police Department spokesman Steve Shaw said.
Ashley Cooper, who's lived next door to Jackson the last few months, said she often would see her out front playing with her kids.
"It's just a very sad thought to think those two little girls don't have a mom now," Cooper said.
Shaw said the kids have been with Jackson's family, and many members of the department are also stepping in to help.
The department is also trying to help Investigator David Greear (pictured below), who owned the house that caught fire.
Investigators say Greear and Jackson were sleeping in separate parts of the house, and he tried to extinguish the fire, and when that failed, he went to the back of the house where Jackson was sleeping.
Greear said they were both attempting to make it through the house filled with smoke. Greear made it out, went to a neighbor's home to get help. Jackson, being unfamiliar with the home, became disoriented and didn't make it out.
"He's lost everything that he has. He is without a home, without vehicle," Shaw said. "His life is in pieces right now, and he's trying to pick up those pieces and put his life back together."
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the state fire marshal, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney's office are all still investigating.
"At this time, this appears to be nothing more than a tragic accident," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
A viewing for Jackson will be held from 4-8 p.m. Monday at Christ Central Ministries at 217 S.W. Dyal Avenue. Her funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church.
A memorial fund has been set up at First Federal Bank in honor of Jackson. If you would like to contribute to the fund, you may do so at any First Federal Savings and Loan bank. The memorial fund is "Brandi Jackson Memorial Fund."