'Utterly devastated': Mooresville mourns officer shot, killed during traffic stop

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — A community is mourning a fallen hero after a Mooresville police officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop Saturday night.

Officials said K-9 Officer Jordan Sheldon, 32, was shot and killed after pulling over 28-year-old Michael Aldana shortly after 10 p.m. on West Plaza Drive.

According to police, Sheldon was rushed to the hospital after the shooting but later died from his injuries.

Investigators said that shortly after shooting Sheldon, Aldana went to an apartment complex about two miles away on Rinehardt Road, where officers later found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Channel 9's Stephanie Tinoco spoke with neighbor Nicole Merchant, who said she heard the gunshot and not long after, was evacuated out of her apartment while detectives worked through the area.

>> We first alerted WSOCTV news app users with a notification just after 12 a.m. Sunday a Mooresville police officer had been shot. Download the WSOCTV news app for your smartphone and get updates on this developing story as they come in.

[PHOTOS: Mooresville mourns fallen officer]

"I had a hard time going to sleep. Every little noise, I'd fling my eyes right open," Merchant said. "I started to get all panicky and shaky. It's hard. I just told my son this morning this is why I tell you to stay close to me. You don't know."

Photo: Leigh Walther Photography

Sheldon, a six-year department veteran, was one of the department's K9 officers. He and his dog, Ramon, were on duty when the officer was killed. He was well known and his death will be deeply felt in the community.

On Monday, the chief of police took time to thank the community for the outpouring of support shown to their department.

(WATCH BELOW: Mooresville Police Chief thanks community)

His friend Brian Vanderwestern told Channel 9 that Sheldon was always out in the community making sure people were safe and making connections.

“He would be the first one to come out and be a good cop. He would show his support. He would come and hang out and just talk with us and have a good time. He used to come here, stop, get gas, fuel, drinks. He'd let his dog out. We’d talk for hours. It’s just not fair,” said Vanderwestern.

Those in the community described him as "kind" and "great with people."

"Very sweet, very kind, had a great smile," neighbor Beverly Aymar said. "He was great with people. It's a rough time for everyone -- the department, the community, his family. All these officers had to show up today and they had to put their uniforms on and they have to go out and do this job after last night and that's difficult."

It's a difficult investigation for law enforcement officers who are trying to deal with the loss of a friend and colleague, but they spoke publicly for the first time around 11:30 a.m. Sunday at a news conference at Mooresville Town Hall.

The pain and grief could be heard in Mooresville Police Chief Damon Williams' voice as he spoke about the fallen officer.

"I don't think words can compare to how my officers are feeling, to how my command staff is feeling, to how I'm feeling. We have a lot of questions. Of course, we're angry. We're sad. There's a roller coaster of emotions we're dealing with this morning," he said.

The chief said Sheldon wasn't married but was involved in a relationship.

Williams asked the community to continue to show an outpouring of support for the Mooresville Police Department, especially during this difficult time.

The morning after the shooting, a Mooresville Police Department SUV quickly turned into a memorial site for the fallen officer with dozens from the community bringing flowers, flags and messages with words of encouragement.

"You see it in the news all the time, but when it hits this close to home, it just hits on a totally different level," supporter Micah Nelson said. "These guys, we love them and we appreciate everything they do for us as a community."

"Just knowing that this was their brother, I just wanted to say I'm so sorry for his family and the town, family, and everyone involved," supporter Stephanie Crisco said. "It's just so senseless what happened."

Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins was very emotional as he spoke, saying he appreciates all the support he's received from mayors throughout the state.

"Utterly devastated. That's the only word I can really think to describe how so many of us are feeling in this community," said Atkins. "This isn't a number for us. This is a real person and we're heartbroken."

Both leaders thanked those who have supported the town during the tragedy and acknowledged Sheldon's impact on the police force and the community.

"That officer served this community with dignity and that's what I remember the most," said Williams.

Channel 9 was there Sunday morning as authorities shut down several roads in uptown Charlotte for a police procession escorting Sheldon's body from the hospital to the medical examiner's office.

Firefighters could be seen raising an American flag on the Davidson Street bridge near Interstate 277 in Sheldon's honor as first responders drove by.

Law enforcement agencies from across the country have continued to reach out and show their support for the Mooresville Police Department from as far away as San Diego, California.

Officials said while Mooresville officers mourn the loss of one of their own, officers from other local departments are helping respond to calls, including Huntersville police and deputies from the Iredell County Sheriff's Office.

“He did his job. He served his country, just our county alone. He did wonders here. He’s just a good guy. It’s terrible. You don’t expect this,” said Vanderwestern.

Community members and police officers gathered together Sunday night to hold a vigil in honor of Sheldon.

Mooresville Police Chief Williams said what mattered most now is everyone working to complete Sheldon's mission -- being kind to one another, showing appreciation when you can, and counting on each other to overcome the heartache.

"Every little bit of this helps with the healing process for sure. It's a long, long process, but this helps. Can't help but smile. If you can't do it on the outside, you're doing it on the inside at least," retired officer Michael Chermerhorn said.

Every day, officers put on their uniforms, knowing their fate could be the same, yet they continue to serve their communities without question.

In November, Sheldon responded to a call about a suspicious van at a fire station and police said he shot at a man who drove the U-Haul van toward him.

Sheldon was placed on leave, which is standard in an officer-involved shooting, and he returned to his job after the investigation was closed.

Officials said a portion of West Plaza Drive was shut down in both directions Saturday night while they investigated the scene.

It's been 45 years since the town of Mooresville lost an officer in such a tragic way.

In April 1974, Lt. Larry Barger was killed while trying to settle an argument between a married couple on Highway 115. Police said the husband snuck behind Barger and shot him. Despite undergoing several major operations, the 36-year-old officer died three months later.

Sheldon was wearing a body camera and it was operating at the time he was killed, Williams said. He said police were reviewing the footage as they conduct their investigation.

The state SBI has taken over the investigation.

Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.

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