By Jay Croft
ATLANTA (CNN) — The two small-town police officers killed this week in Georgia were best friends, with a deep bond throughout their lives and even to their deaths.
Nicholas Smarr, a Marine veteran so jovial people called him Smiles, was a member of the Americus police force in southwest Georgia.
Jody Smith was his roommate and police academy classmate, happy to join the Georgia Southwestern State University force so he could be an officer and pursue a degree.
No one was surprised that Smith heard Smarr responding to a domestic disturbance call Wednesday and went to back him up.
But this town was shocked when the two were fatally shot at an apartment complex.
The gunman, Minquell Kennedy Lembrick, evaded police for about a day before apparently killing himself while hiding in an Americus home.
Both officers, 25, were struck by gunfire. Smarr bled to death as he gave Smith CPR in a desperate attempt to save his wounded friend, his family said.
“He made a conscious choice to try to save his best friend’s life over his own,” Smarr’s uncle, Michael E. Waters, said.
Smith died from his wounds on Thursday.
Waters recalled the two loved football and played baseball as children and softball as adults. Smith’s fiancee, Sarah, even shared Nick’s last name, though Smarr’s family said there is no relation.
“They were like brothers,” he said. “That was the kind of relationship they had.”
CNN’s Kayla Rodgers and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.
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