WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker identified the deputy killed Friday morning as 48-year-old Ned Byrd, a deputy who had been with the department for 13 years.
Baker said Byrd was shot multiple times while responding to a call on Auburn Knightdale Road near Battle Bridge Road in the eastern part of the county around 11 p.m. Thursday.
Byrd did not radio for help after he was shot. He was found dead when the sheriff's office sent other deputies to check on his welfare.
Baker confirmed that Byrd was shot more than once while he was outside of his patrol car.
When asked if he thought Byrd was caught off guard by the shooting, Baker responded, "I believe, based on what I've seen so far, that the answer to that is yes."
The investigation into the deadly shooting remains open and active. Baker said there was video from the scene, both from dashcam video and from surveillance video from a nearby business and they are being used in the investigation.
The person who shot and killed Byrd remains unidentified and at large. No further details have been released about who investigators think may be responsible.
This was Baker's second news conference of the day. He fought back tears during his briefing early Friday morning.
"We will find who's responsible for this loss. Even in the midst of the hurt and the pain, we ask for prayers, we ask for patience as we go about finding out what happened and who's responsible," Sheriff Baker said.
Byrd was a K9 Deputy, the sheriff's office said. He joined the sheriff's office in July 2009 as a detention officer and started Basic Law Enforcement Training School to become a certified law enforcement officer in September 2017. He was sworn in as a deputy in March 2018.
Byrd's police dog was found sitting alone inside his patrol vehicle.
"Which tells me, tells us that what he got out on apparently to him at that time didn't appear to be any sort of a threat," Baker said.
The sheriff's office issued a BOLO (Be on the Lookout) for a white pickup truck that Baker said could possibly be connected to the case.
People who knew Byrd remembered him as a best friend to anyone, a person who loved dogs and was always there for people.
Byrd was known in the Cary MMA community as a "strong guy," both inside and out.
"Ned was an incredibly strong person, physically," Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor Jason Culbreth said. "He could pick up anything. He was just amazingly strong and he was also that strong of a human being. He was always there for people, he had the biggest heart."
Byrd had a lot of hobbies, from mountain biking to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and playing with his dog.
"When he wasn't working, he was hanging out and helping other people all the time and that was the type of person that he was," Culbreth said.
Jon Gregory at Wake Technical Community College said an officer's job begins with the basic law enforcement training program, known as BLET before they advance to more training in several programs at an agency.
Training includes scenario-based learning, where an officer's response is studied to see how they can be better prepared in high-stress situations.
"The high-risk areas, we're looking at arresting individuals that could also include serving warrants, be serving papers," Gregory said. "A secondary of high risk would be vehicle stops, and there are many different types of vehicle stops. Domestic violence is another situation where it's a very high-risk area for officers for injury."
As the investigation involving Byrd continues, Gregory said they try to prepare all officers the best they can for any type of environment.
"We cannot cover every situation," Gregory said. "It's a constant learning environment, things change. Trends change."
The latest trend Gregory's seeing lately is the number of assaults on officers increasing.
"I'm super angry, very, very angry," Culbreth said on losing Byrd. "You know, it's the world we're living in today."
Cary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu met on Friday.
"It'll be a big cryfest really," Culbreth said. "it's a tough thing to have to go through to lose somebody that you thought so highly of."
"Every day, our law enforcement officers bravely take risks to keep us safe and the past few weeks have been very hard. I am deeply grateful to them and their families and we must do all we can to support them," Gov. Roy Cooper said on Twitter.
Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead issued a statement of support for his Wake County counterpart.
"Our office stands behind Sheriff Baker and the men and women of our neighboring Sheriff's Office after last night's tragic incident," Birkhead said. "What has happened in Wake County hits very close to home for us. While the details from last night's incident are still being determined, I want to extend my deepest condolences to Sheriff Baker, the Wake County Sheriff's Office, and the family and friends of the deceased deputy."
Byrd is the sixth deputy shot in the ABC11 viewing area in the past month.
Kevin DeSilva is in custody on multiple charges related to the shooting of deputy Aaron Tyndall in Caswell County earlier this week.
Wayne County deputy Sgt. Matthew Fishman was laid to rest on Tuesday after being shot and killed while serving involuntary commitment papers. Two other deputies were also shot but survived.
And a Sampson County deputy is recovering after being shot in the line of duty last month while responding to a report of a car break-in.