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Jacksonville police mourn death of lieutenant who died of ‘COVID-19 related illness'

Wife says Lt. Chris Cunningham also served in U.S. Navy

JSO lieutenant succumbs to COVID-19
JSO lieutenant succumbs to COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Fraternal Order of Police and members of the community are mourning the death of a police lieutenant, who also served in the Navy.

Sheriff Mike Williams confirmed in a statement Wednesday that Lt. Chris Cunningham passed away due to a “COVID-19 related illness.”

The statement reads in part:

“While his death is sudden and unexpected, his mark on all of us that worked with him is indelible. We will forever remember his unwavering commitment to the job and agency he loved so much.”

According to Williams, Cunningham was the commanding officer of the crime scene unit, latent prints and photo lab at the Sheriff’s Office. He served the Jacksonville community for more than 20 years.

JSO LT. Cunningham Dies of COVID-19 Related Illness
JSO LT. Cunningham Dies of COVID-19 Related Illness

The lieutenant’s wife, Lisa, who also goes by Gwen, said her husband leaves behind five children and three grandchildren. She told News4Jax, “[He] embraced those in need as a personal mission to serve them. It’s so unfortunate this pandemic is taking lives by the seconds. Please, please communicate to the public the damage this virus does in the body.”

Cunningham’s wife told News4Jax her husband served in the military and loved his Navy family.

Cunningham’s son, who shares the same name as his father, wrote the following on Facebook, sharing photos:

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson -- a retired Jacksonville police officer -- said he knew Cunningham well. He said the lieutenant was well-respected by his subordinates.

“He was a policeman’s policeman. He treated all of his people fairly. They would run through a brick wall for Chris Cunningham because he led from the front,” Jefferson said. “He was a dedicated man to his profession, as well as to his family, and we’re going to mourn this loss for quite some time.”

The Fraternal Order of Police offered thoughts and prayers to his family:

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.