They had gone out to dinner with friends and then back to an apartment for drinks. They wanted more beer, so they called an Uber around 11 p.m. to take them to a convenience store.

Shawn Mckeough Jr. and Sarah Terrano, natives of Westbrook, were nearing the three-year mark of their relationship. She had moved with him to Arkansas, where Mckeough was stationed as a senior airman at Little Rock Air Force Base.

At the Valero Big Red store in North Little Rock, Mckeough and two friends went inside. Terrano stayed in the car. A moment later, she saw two other men run toward the entrance. She didn’t know what was happening until she saw the men raise their arms, first toward the cashier and then at the customers.

She didn’t see the gunshot, but she heard it. The two men left the store without taking the money they had come for. Terrano ran inside, but it was too late. Mckeough had died. He was 23.

Terrano, who spoke by phone Monday, said she’s still in shock.

“I really think he tried to get the robbers’ attention so that no one else would get hurt,” she said. “That’s just who he was.”

Shawn Mckeough Jr., 23, was killed in Arkansas last Friday when he tried to stop an armed robbery. He’s a Westbrook native and was stationed at a nearby Air Force base. He’s with his girlfriend Sarah Terrano. Photo courtesy of Sarah Terrano

Family and friends were reeling Monday. Mckeough’s mother, Lisa Marie Hebert, who still lives in Westbrook, said in a telephone interview that she always worried about her son after he joined the military because she knew he could die young. But this, she said, was far worse.

“To fight for your country and then die like this …” she said, letting the sentence end unfinished.

Video footage from inside the store during the robbery shows two individuals entering with handguns drawn. One is wearing dark Adidas pants and a black Nike hooded sweatshirt with the drawstrings pulled tight around his face.

On Monday, North Little Rock Police detectives and the U.S. Marshal Eastern Arkansas Fugitive Task Force arrested one of the suspects, Drequan Lamont Robinson, 18, at a Motel 6 in Little Rock. Police had issued warrants for capital murder and aggravated robbery for Robinson and a second suspect, who had not been identified. A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.

“They promised to get them,” Terrano said of the police. “I want those two people to sit in jail the rest of their lives. I want them to think about this every day.”

Mckeough was a 2014 graduate of Westbrook High School, where he played hockey and soccer and made classmates laugh. He grew up mostly in Westbrook with his mother and step-father, Tom Hebert, and younger brother, Kyle Hebert. His father, Shawn Mckeough Sr., lives in Florida.

Karla Kent, who is best friends with Mckeough’s mother and whose son, Kaleb, was one of Mckeough’s best friends, said he was always adventurous but put others first.

“If my son climbed a 50-foot tree, Shawn would be the one on the ground telling him to come down,” she said.

Kaleb Kent said he and Mckeough were part of a close-knit group of friends from Westbrook. This isn’t the first time they have dealt with a death of one of their own.

“It doesn’t get easier,” he said. “But being together helps. I had six people sleeping in my living room last night.”

Mckeough enlisted in the Air Force after high school and already had deployed to Germany, Kuwait and South Korea. He had been in Arkansas since December and was serving as an aerial delivery operations specialist for the 19th Airlift Wing.

“We are heartbroken to have lost a valued member of our Team Little Rock family,” Col. Gerald Donohue, the unit’s commander, said in a statement. “Shawn’s death will be felt by each of us, and we are committed to supporting his loved ones and fellow airmen during this very difficult time.”

Shawn Mckeough Jr. Photo courtesy NewsCenter Maine

Numerous other friends and military colleagues expressed shock and sadness on social media about Mckeough’s death.

Kristen Mononoke, who met him in sixth grade, remembered Mckeough as the boy who stood up for her when others called her names.

“I’m so, so sorry that this happened, the world is such a dark place, but Shawn’s light will never burn out and we are all so lucky to bask in it,” she wrote.

Mckeough’s mother said she’s overwhelmed with support from friends in Westbrook and people he had met in the military from all over the world. Everyone, she said, remarked about how senseless his death was.

Authorities in Arkansas conducted an autopsy, and Mckeough’s body was expected to be transported to Maine by military escort Tuesday or Wednesday, ahead of a funeral service, possibly as early as this weekend.

His mother agreed with Terrano that Mckeough died a hero.

Shawn Mckeough Jr. is the kid in the front left with glasses. His best friend Kaleb Kent is beside him and his brother Kyle Hebert is in the back. Mckeough, 23, was killed in Arkansas last Friday when he tried to stop an armed robbery. He’s a Westbrook native and was stationed at a nearby Air Force base. Courtesy of Karla Kent

“It was typical of Shawn to come to someone’s defense. That’s who he was,” she said.

Mckeough always tried to come back to Westbrook at least once a year, often as a surprise. Hebert said she remembered one year she was trying to reach him and he wasn’t answering his phone. It was because he was on a plane. He showed up at the house at 1 a.m.

He was last in Westbrook for Christmas. It was the first time since he enlisted that he had been able to be home for the holiday.

He loved camping every summer with family. He loved the travel that came with a military life, but didn’t love being away from family. He was selfless right up until his last breath.

“I keep thinking about him challenging two gunmen,” Kaleb Kent said. “I couldn’t have done it.”

Mckeough and Terrano had talked recently about the future. He was thinking of re-enlisting with the Air Force but hadn’t decided. They had just gotten two puppies. They were supposed to close on a house this month.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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