A North Carolina police officer was fatally shot in the line of duty early Saturday morning and authorities are still searching for his killer, PEOPLE confirms.
Shelby officer Tim Brackeen, 38, was trying to serve warrants on armed robbery and kidnapping charges to Irving Fenner, Jr., when police allege Fenner shot him in the chest. He was pronounced dead at a Charlotte, North Carolina, hospital on Monday.
Fenner is allegedly at large, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is helping with the manhunt, authorities tell PEOPLE.
Addressing the media for the first time since Brackeen was pronounced dead Monday, Shelby police chief Jeff Ledford told reporters his team is taking care of the fallen officer’s family while they search for the man who allegedly killed him.
“We have to remember first he was a great husband and dad – he was passionate about them,” Ledford said.
Brackeen, who was the father of a four-year-old little girl, spent twelve years working for the Shelby Police Department, most recently serving as a K-9 officer. His dog Ciko was in his patrol car when he was shot. He was named Shelby’s Officer of the Year in 2012.
The shooting happened in the backyard of neighbor Ashley Hamrick, who tells PEOPLE she witnessed the shooting.
“When the gunshot hit him it looked like it took his breath and he hit his knees,” Hamrick says. “And by the time I got over here he was on the ground.”
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There is currently a blue ribbon on the tree outside Hamrick’s house. Dozens more just like it line downtown Shelby. Brackeen’s patrol car is also adorned in blue ribbons, a growing memorial where it now sits parked in front of the police station.
Hundreds of people also crowded into the town square Monday night, dressed in blue, in memorial of Brackeen.
Ledford tells PEOPLE Brackeen was beloved in the community and died surrounded by family and fellow officers.
“I spoke with the family. Obviously they’re upset and this is a hard time for them, they’re appreciative the support and prayers of the community.”