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Community grieves after police officer, who served two tours in Afghanistan, dies from illness

By ALEXIS STEVENS | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Published: March 23, 2019

ATLANTA (Tribune News Service) — By the time he was in high school, Anthony Walter Pereira already knew he wanted to serve.

While a high school student, he was involved with the Snellville Police Explorers. And after graduating in 2008, Pereira served both his country as a U.S. Marine and the Cobb County community as a police officer. His service came to and end Friday when he died at age 28 from an undisclosed illness, the Cobb police department said.

“As our department grieves we ask our community to come together for his family in this time of sadness,” the Cobb police department posted on Facebook.

Pereira, who lived in Stone Mountain, Ga., served his first of two tours in Afghanistan within a year of graduating from high school, according to his online obituary. Within four years, he would be deployed a second time to Afghanistan.

In September, Pereira was the first officer to arrive at an East Cobb home where a couple found a World War II-era explosive in the backyard.

“It was made of solid iron and it looked like a missile that had been dropped from an airplane,” Shay Haynes told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Haynes and her husband initially thought it was a toy, long ago buried when their sons were much younger. But the couple quickly realized the device, whatever it was, wasn’t meant for play.

“Oh my gosh, this is not a toy,” Haynes said. “This is the real thing.”

Haynes called police to have the device checked out, and soon her home was the scene of numerous officers and a bomb squad. She and her husband worried that they could have caused the device to explode, or that maybe it was still “live” despite its age. But Pereira kept the couple calm and explained what was happening throughout the ordeal.

“He was very kind. He was really a nice presence to have here until the very end,” Haynes said.

In addition to his parents and siblings, Pereira is survived by a 5-year-old daughter, along with numerous other relatives. An online fundraising page was created to assist the family.

©2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
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