LUMBERTON — The man who shot and killed Lumberton police Officer Jeremiah Goodson Tuesday morning is in custody, according to Lumberton police Capt. Johnny Barnes.
Goodson, who was off-duty, was shot at about 11 a.m. while serving a warrant for the man’s arrest. Goodson was struck more than once, but no one else was injured, Barnes said.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the site of the murder, Chief Mike McNeill said he wasn’t ready to disclose the name of the man in custody, or details regarding the shooting.
“All I can tell you right now is that, we did have an officer shot and killed, Officer Jeremiah Goodson,” McNeill said. “I cannot even tell you about the further investigation right now because the SBI is leading this investigation with the Lumberton Police Department. You see us still here; we’re going to support them in any way we can on getting down to the full investigation of this officer getting shot.
“… We do have a suspect in custody and we’re doing our investigation on it right now,” he said.
Goodson had arrived at the Shell gas station at 5030 Fayetteville Road when he recognized the man, who was sitting in a vehicle, Barnes said. Goodson called the Police Department, and another officer came to assist in the arrest. As the two officers approached the man’s vehicle, the gunman opened fire, striking Goodson, Barnes said. It was unclear Tuesday afternoon how many times he was struck.
The assisting officer held the shooter at gunpoint, and he was taken into custody, Barnes said.
Goodson’s wife is pregnant with their second child. McNeill said she was at Southeastern Regional Medical Center and in “stable” condition. He would not comment on whether or not she was in labor.
“From what I hear, she is expecting,” McNeill said. “She’s holding on. The family’s holding good.”
McNeill said Goodson was “the best of the best.”
“He was a personable officer. The kids loved him, the officers here loved him,” McNeill said. “He’d never meet a stranger. He did his work, he did his work diligently. He did it without any kind of bias. He was impartial on everything he did. He was just a good officer.”
McNeill said that an officer’s job doesn’t stop when he goes off duty.
“When you become a police officer, you’re 24/7,” he said. “We have things in place that when you do happen to see something outside the time that you’re working, we do have things in place that you call other officers.
“… It’s taken a toll on me as a chief,” McNeill said. “These officers that we have here are like my brothers, my sisters and my children. We take this thing personal when one of our officers is hurt. When one’s hurt, we’re all hurt.”
About 20 to 25 deputies from the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene, Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said.
“My condolences go out to this officer’s family, and to Chief Mike McNeill and his department,” Sealey said. “It’s a sad situation when someone is killed while trying to protect the lives of citizens.”
Condolences for Goodson’s family poured out onto a website — odmp.org — where memorials are posted for officers killed in the line of duty.
“Lumberton, N.C. has lost a true hero. Jeremiah, you will be missed,” Sheriff’s Detective Lance Thompson wrote.
“You have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for your dedication and service,” said Maxton interim Police Chief Tammy Deese.
According to the website, the last time a Lumberton police officer was killed was on Nov. 18, 1936, when Chief Vance R. McGill was accidentally shot and killed when a pistol he was examining discharged.
Goodson, a master police officer, had been employed with the Lumberton Police Department since June 14, 2006, according to James Moore, Human Resources director for the city.
Goodson worked as a resource officer for Lumberton High School while serving in the Juvenile Division in 2010. Before becoming a police officer, Goodson worked as a mechanic for the Lumberton Public Works Department, where he was hired on Nov. 29, 2000, Moore said.
Santanna Oxendine, 19, a former Lumberton High School student, described Goodson as a “loving, caring and kind officer.” She and her friend, Shmaya Newton, stood behind the yellow crime tape at the scene, watching as the investigation unfolded.
“He did anything to keep people out of trouble, and he always knew the words to say when you was in trouble and wanted you to get out of trouble,” she said. “I used to always stay in trouble and he kept me out of trouble.”
Oxendine said she and Newton spoke with Goodson last week while they were on West Fifth Street.
“He was joking around, playing with us,” she said. “Then we turn around and this happened.”
“He stopped and pulled over and talked to us,” Newton said. “He asked us how we were doing, he asked what we were gonna do after we got finished with school. We told him we were going to college, and he said, ‘That’s the best for y’all to do instead of being around Lumberton. Y’all need to do something with your life instead of sitting around here.’”