It happened on North Fayetteville Road around 11 a.m. at a Shell gas station and Dairy Queen restaurant near Interstate 95 as Officer Jeremiah Goodson, who was off-duty at the time, attempted to take a suspect wanted on warrants into custody.
He called for backup and, when another officer arrived, they started towards the suspect's car to make an arrest. However, the suspect pulled a handgun and shot Goodson several times in the chest.
Police Chief Michael McNeill said Goodson worked with the department's gang unit and was a school resource officer at Lumberton Senior High School.
"He was an officer that believed in his job," said Lumberton resident John Oxendine. "He tried to help others, tried to show them the way to success in life."
McNeill said Goodson's wife was taken to the hospital. She is pregnant with the couple's second child and is due any day now. She has since been released from the hospital and is at home with family, but did not give birth.
McNeill asked the public to pray for Goodson's family and his officers as they work to get through the tragedy.
"Keep the family in your-prayers," said McNeill. "Please, keep the family in your prayers. That's what's going to help us get through this. Also my officers, pray for them too."
Debra Martin, who worked with Goodson, said there was no finer role model for the students at Lumberton High.
"He was just good. He was friendly. He was warm. He wasn't rude. He tried to help you. He was nice. We just loved him," said Martin.
McNeill did not identify the suspect, but said he was in custody. He is expected to be formally charged Wednesday.