CONCORD, N.C. — A memorial to honor a Concord police officer killed in the line of duty continues to grow Friday.
What began with candles and flowers nearly 24 hours ago has grown into a massive tribute outside Concord Police headquarters as the community continues to grieve the loss of Officer Jason Shuping.
Outside the building, Shuping’s police car has been covered in flowers, notes and cards, reflecting how many lives were touched by the officer.
Many who came by the police department to hug officers and pay their respects said they didn’t know Shuping, who had only been on the force for 18 months, but they know he was there to serve and protect.
“I heard about it this morning when I was getting ready for work and I just stopped and said, ‘Dear Lord, not another,’” said Pam Mullis.
“These police officers out here, trying to protect you, protect me and something’s got to give,” said her husband, Ray Mullis.
The city and the police department invited the public to join them for a special tribute Friday night in remembering Shuping. There was a candlelight vigil and chalk the walk event in front of Concord Police headquarters at 6 p.m.
Chalk was available for residents (especially children) to leave notes of condolences and respect.
Another memorial for the fallen officer was placed outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday.
Shuping’s former partner Ashlyn Stamey shared the following statement on social media:
“I made it about 2 seconds before I burst into tears and began sobbing. I dreaded CPD releasing this photo and it’s even harder to believe that a friend, teammate, son, brother, and husband was killed in the line of duty.
“This man was a good man. Jason wasn’t a badge heavy cop. He was humble, loving, and kind. He saw the good in everyone. He had to be reminded frequently that unfortunately there is evil in this world. Jason’s heart was huge and he didn’t care that people knew it.
“Jason cried with me when I buried my dad and treated me to lunch. He was constantly texting me or pulling up beside my patrol car to check on me. Many times more than I can count we dissected situations and scenarios and got things off of our chest so that we could mentally cope. He was the easiest person to talk to and always wanted to be supportive of his friends and teammates.
“Jason was hard on himself a lot because he wanted to be great. He wanted to be a great husband, a great cop and a great dad. He adored his wife Haylee and his family.
“I will always remember Jason for being the amazing man, and friend that he was. I loved cutting up with Jason and throwing out a one-liner that would shock the hell out of him and make him blush. The one day we got stuck directing traffic and I had to call for another unit so he could apply sunscreen. His red headed self was becoming a lobster, fast!
“Most people will never understand the bond between you and other officers. You spend countless hours, holidays, and respond to unique and difficult situations together. Situations that the average human will never endure. You see the ugly, and you feel the fire. When situations go wrong or the media spins their take on things it’s upsetting because people like Jason, along with most every cop, don’t suit up wanting to be a bad human or wanting to take a life. Bottom line- you sign up to be good, and to genuinely help.
“Such a great human that I could go on and on about. He’s definitely going to be missed. Jason Shuping- you were a great dude, and I loved you.”
SBI names suspect accused of killing officer in shootout near Concord Mills
The State Bureau of Investigation has identified the man who was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police that left one officer dead and another wounded late Wednesday night outside a fast-food restaurant near Concord Mills.
>> Reading this story in our app? The “Follow the Lead” feature allows you to tap the blue tag indicated with a ‘+’ to subscribe to alerts on the very latest breaking news updates.
The tragedy unfolded just before 11 p.m. on Gateway Lane near Bruton Smith Boulevard, not far from Concord Mills.
Channel 9 crews could see a massive police presence in the area following the shooting, and Gateway Lane was closed for nearly five hours.
The scene was centered around the Sonic restaurant off Bruton Smith Boulevard.
Police said the officers and the suspect -- identified as 29-year-old Jeremy Maurice Daniels -- exchanged gunfire. One of the officers was wounded and is expected to be OK, but the other officer did not survive.
Daniels, who was armed, also died.
“This loss is devastating not only to the member’s family and loved ones, but every police officer across the city, state, and country, the police department tweeted.
One witness who was driving through the area told Channel 9 he heard the gunshots.
“The SWAT team, the police officers, the sheriffs, everybody just started rushing and we couldn’t actually go in,” said Kellie Miller. “I had my brother and my little sister in the car so we didn’t feel safe.”
Channel 9 watched as a police procession escorted the fallen officer’s body from Concord to the medical examiner’s office in Charlotte around 3:30 a.m.
(WATCH BELOW: Police escort the body of fallen Concord police officer to medical examiner’s office)
‘There’s no playbook for this’: Timeline of events leading to shootout
On Thursday morning, Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek shared more details about the events that led to the shootout.
“This tragic and senseless loss of our CPD family is devastating,” the chief said at his news conference. “It’s tragic incidents like these that serve as a grim reminder of the fact that police officers take an oath to serve their community and lay their lives on the line.”
Gacek said that around 10:18 p.m., police received a call about a car that had crashed on Interstate 85, near the northbound ramp to the Bruton Smith Boulevard exit. An Alcohol Law Enforcement special agent who happened to be patrolling the area was first to the crash scene and found a car had crashed into a guardrail and had been abandoned.
Gacek said a Concord PD officer also arrived and a woman passing by told them that a man had just tried to carjack her near the Sonic restaurant, just down the road on Gateway Lane. The CPD officer stayed at the crash scene while the ALE agent drove to the Sonic.
(WATCH BELOW: CPD Chief Gary Gacek’s news briefing following deadly shootout)
According to the chief, the ALE agent and two other CPD officers -- later identified as 25-year-old Jason Shuping and 23-year-old Kaleb Robinson -- saw Daniels, who matched the description given by the woman, and approached him outside the Sonic. That is when Daniels pulled out a handgun and began shooting.
Gacek said both Shuping and Robinson were hit.
Shuping did not survive.
As those shots were fired, Gacek said two more CPD officers arrived and saw Robinson, who was wounded, guarding his fellow fallen officer. They also saw Daniels climb into an SUV that belonged to a Sonic employee.
As those two officers approached, there was an exchange of gunfire and Daniels was shot and killed, according to Gacek.
Those two officers were not injured and the chief said a total of three officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
ALE officials said their agent suffered minor injuries but was checked out by paramedics.
Police still don’t know what led to the initial crash. Authorities said Daniels was a convicted felon with a Charlotte address.
Channel 9 talked to Daniels’ mom who said her son was a tattoo artist in Noda. She said he had his issues in the past but hadn’t been to jail in 10 years and wasn’t a violent person.
She said she also doesn’t see him trying to carjack anyone and doesn’t understand why this would happen.
“There’s no playbook for this,” Gacek said. “CPD is comprised of a resilient bunch. We’re gonna get through this, we’re a big family. It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna affect us in different ways at different times. But we got a huge support system. We are going to get through this.”
‘I am so heartbroken’: Honoring the officers
Officials said Shuping was 25 years old and had been with the department for a year and a half. Robinson is 23 years old and has been with the department for about nine months. Shuping’s brother worked for Concord police, too.
Shuping was a 2018 graduate of UNC Pembroke, where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
“We were saddened to learn today of the tragic loss of Jason Shuping, a member of our UNC Pembroke alumni community. The thoughts of BraveNation today are with Jason’s family and friends experiencing this unimaginable loss,” the school said in a statement.
Channel 9′s Allison Latos spoke to Shuping’s high school track coach, Laurie Wyrick. She said Shuping and Robinson both attended East Rowan High School.
“I am so proud they chose to be servants but I am so heartbroken. I cannot imagine how they’re feeling, how his wife is feeling. We love them both.”
According to Wyrick, Shuping and his wife were high school sweethearts, and Wyrick was honored to be at their wedding.
The Concord Police Department is asking for the public’s thoughts and prayers and said that memorial items can be left outside the police department at 41 Cabarrus Ave W.
Concord resident Betty Walker said her late husband was a Concord police officer. She visited Shuping’s memorial with tears in her eyes to place a poinsettia outside the department.
“I just hope all the prayers and thoughts of them will help them through this emotional time because it is awful,” Walker said.
Channel 9 was there as strangers, families and small children placed flowers, cards and balloons at the growing memorial.
“It takes a special person to do what they do,” said Concord resident Wes Kiker, who stopped by the police department Thursday to show his support. “They go out every day not knowing if they’ll come back.”
“I pray this family will find some peace and comfort through what’s happened,” Kiker told Channel 9. “I said, ‘Sorry for your loss. May God bless you and keep you and give you peace. In God’s love.’ I know that’s not enough -- but it is something.”
Concord Mayor Bill Dusch has ordered that all American and North Carolina flags in the city be lowered to half-staff until sunset on the day of funeral services.
“Our prayers are with family, friends, and co-workers of our fallen officer. Jason Shuping tragically lost his life in the line of duty late last night protecting the community he loved,” said Dusch.
A hero’s escort: Police procession brings officer’s body to funeral home
Fellow first responders led a procession from Charlotte, through Concord, and then to Rowan County Thursday afternoon to show support and respect from the law enforcement family as Officer Shuping’s body was taken to a funeral home in Rockwell.
Officers saluted as Shuping’s body was moved into an ambulance draped in an American flag at the Medical Examiner’s Office.
From there, the procession then took the body to a funeral home in Rowan County, passing by tributes as they traveled up Interstate 85 and into Concord.
Gov. Roy Cooper said he had spoken with Shuping’s parents Thursday morning to offer his condolences and support.
“This tragedy along with Officer Herndon’s death last week reminds us that law enforcement officers have extremely difficult, sometimes dangerous jobs, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their courage and service,” Cooper wrote on Twitter.
He also ordered flags across the state be lowered to half-staff.
A Sonic spokesperson issued the following statement Thursday:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the fallen police officer. The local franchise group is cooperating fully with the investigation, and we defer any further comment to the local police department.”
The city of Concord has seen an overall low level of crime for the last few years. In 2019, there were four homicides and just three in 2018.
Community still grieving Mount Holly officer’s death
The fatal shooting marks the second time since last week that a police officer was killed near the Charlotte area. Our community is still grieving the death of Mount Holly police officer Tyler Herndon, who was killed last Friday while responding to a break-in at an arcade and car wash on Beatty Drive.
Herndon died two days before his 26th birthday.
On Tuesday, hundreds of officers paid their respects to Herndon at First Baptist Church in Kings Mountain, where he grew up.
His family said Herndon was proud to be a police officer and loved his community.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.
Cox Media Group