Lumberton, N.C. — An off-duty Lumberton police officer was killed Tuesday morning at a gas station off Interstate 95 by someone wanted on outstanding warrants, police said.
Master Patrol Officer Jeremiah Montgomery Goodson Jr., 32, was shot at about 11 a.m. in front of Xpress Depot, a combination Dairy Queen and Shell gas station at 5030 Fayetteville Road, which is a couple of blocks from Exit 22 off I-95.
Police said Goodson spotted someone who had outstanding warrants and called on-duty officers for help. As a patrol car was pulling into the parking lot, Goodson got out of his vehicle and approached the wanted individual.
The person then opened fire on Goodson, and the other officer took the gunman into custody, police said.
Police Chief Michael McNeill said the gunman, whose name hasn't been released, was being interviewed by the State Bureau of Investigation Tuesday evening.
Goodson was pronounced dead at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
"He was a personable officer," McNeill said. "The kids loved him. The officers here loved him. He was just a great person. He never met a stranger. He did his work, did his work diligently."
McNeill, who was visibly shaken as he addressed the media Tuesday afternoon, said the fatal shooting had "taken a toll" on him personally.
"These officers we have here are like my brothers and sisters and my children," he said. "We take this thing personally, when one of our officers is hurt. When one hurts, we all hurt."
Goodson had been with the Lumberton Police Department for about six years, was a member of the gang unit and worked at Lumberton High School as a school resource officer, officials said.
"He always kept me out of trouble. He always knew how to talk to me," former Lumberton High student Santanna Oxendine said. "He was a good, loving, kind person. Whatever was going wrong, he knew just how to talk to a person to keep them out of trouble and get their life back on the right track."
The community beyond the school was stunned as well by Goodson's death.
"He was good for the community. He has helped a lot of people. When your child got in trouble, he tried to do the best he could to help people," said Marcia MacNeill, who knew Goodson from his patrols in her community. "I’m just shocked because he’s one of the good ones that was on that force."
"He was not a typical everyday officer," resident John Oxendine said. "He was one that, if you met him in the school, he was the same way he was on the highway. If you met him in uniform, he was just as nice as he was out of uniform."
Goodson's wife is expecting the couple's second child any day now, and McNeill said she was dealing with his death as best she could.
"Keep the family in your prayers. That's what's going to help us get through this thing," he said.
The State Bureau of Investigation was investigating the shooting, with assistance from the Robeson County Sheriff's Office and Lumberton Police Department.