Lumberton, N.C. — Hundreds of friends, family members and colleagues gathered Monday evening at Lumberton High School to pay respects to a police officer who was shot last week outside a gas station.
People who knew Master Patrol Officer Jeremiah Montgomery Goodson Jr., 32, seem to remember him by his smile, his caring attitude and his dedication to the force.
"We are brothers and sisters in this job, and we have lost a member of our family," said Michael Brown, a sergeant with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.
Police Chief Michael McNeill said Goodson will be remembered by his legacy.
"He was caring. He was compassionate. He was courageous," McNeill said.
Goodson had been with the department for six years, served on its gang unit and worked as a school resource officer at Lumberton High School.
That's how he came to know student Joshua McNair.
"(His death) really hurt me because he was a close friend of mine," McNair said. "I just think, life is short. Life is short."
The student said people were pouring into the wake to mourn and honor Goodson, and show support for his family.
"There are a lot of people in there. There is a lot of emotion, a lot of sadness," he said.
Goodson is survived by his wife, Lametria, who is expecting the couple's second child any day now, and a 2-year-old daughter.
Lumberton resident Sherry Williams said she tried to bring comfort to Lametria Goodson at the wake.
"I hugged her neck and I said, 'Continue to let God be with you and let God guide you,'" Williams said. "It is heartbreaking."
Goodson was fatally shot last Tuesday in front of Xpress Depot, at 5030 Fayetteville Road in Lumberton, while he was off duty. Investigators say Goodson spotted a man who had outstanding warrants and called on-duty officers for help.
As Officer Ronnie Hayes was pulling into the parking lot in his patrol car, Goodson got out of his vehicle and approached Marques Ramon Brown, police said.
Brown then opened fire on Goodson, and Hayes took him into custody, police said.
Brown is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond in the Cumberland County jail. Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said he plans to seek the death penalty against him.
Lumberton Mayor Ray Pennington said the crime has impacted the entire community.
"(Goodson) was just doing his job, and he didn't have a chance," he said. "Why, and why him? Why Lumberton?"
A funeral for Goodson is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Lumberton High.