GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A Mount Holly police officer fatally shot at a car wash in Gaston County Friday morning has been identified as 25-year-old Tyler Avery Herndon.
The Mount Holly Police Department is asking everyone for to keep Officer Herndon’s family in their thoughts and prayers.
Officials say officer Herndon had been with the Mount Holly Police Department for less than two years.
Just before 1 p.m., a police escort travelled down I-85 to transport Officer Herndon to the Medical Examiner’s office.
Gaston County Communications confirms they received the call about an officer shot around 3:30 a.m. near the Mt. Holly Car Wash on Beatty Drive. The area is off Highway 273 near Interstate 85. Charlotte police say two other people, including the suspect, were injured in the shooting.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say officers tried to engage with an armed breaking and entering suspect when the shots were exchanged between the suspect and several Mount Holly officers. A Gaston County police officer was also involved.
The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Joshua Funk, and Officer Herndon were both shot, officials say, and at least one other person was hurt. Police say Officer Herndon was taken to Caromont Main with serious injuries, where he was pronounced dead just before 10:30 a.m.
No information has been released about the third person injured, but CMPD says no other officers were injured.
Funk suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to Caromont Main with minor injuries. He was treated and taken to the Gaston County Jail. He faces charges of felony first-degree murder, according to online records.
Three officers involved were placed on administrative leave to ensure their respective department policies and procedures were followed, which is standard procedure.
At 3 p.m. Friday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Rob Tufano, Mount Holly Police Chief Don Roper and Mount Holly Mayor Brian Hough talked to the public about Officer Herndon and the incident.
Tufano briefly spoke extending condolences and explaining that CMPD has been side-by-side with the Mount Holly Police Department since the shooting happened Friday morning.
Herndon was 25 years old and was two days away from celebrating his 26th birthday.
Chief Don Roper spoke about how Herndon’s death impacts the community and the Mount Hoolly Police Department.
“It breaks my heart to have to inform our community that we’ve lost a hero today,” Chief Roper said. “Tyler Herndon was a great man, he is a hero. He served this community well. Our community is less right now because we’ve lost him. Society has actually lost a good man today. He was a selfless man.”
Roper said he saw the potential in Herndon from the way he worked and “stood up for what was right.” Roper said Herndon understood the risks of being a police officer and was willing to accept those risks to serve the community.
“We’re hurting, our department is hurting, our family is hurting - but we will rely on each other to get through this,” Chief Roper said.
Roper asked the public to recognize the life Herndon lived and sacrifices he was making to protect the community.
“If I can just ask everyone that’s watching now - please let this remind all of us to take care of each other and recognize the sacrifices that a lot of people make so that our communities can be good places to raise families,” Chief Roper said.
Chief Roper says the Mount Holly Police Department had not lost an officer in the line of duty before Herndon’s tragic killing.
When speaking about the emotions he was going through while delivering this press conference, Roper said “this is the worst imaginable thing that I can do.”
“I’ve been involved in law enforcement for 33 years. and this is the worst call that you could imagine getting,” Roper said.
Chief Roper spoke to the personality Herndon had and the type of officer he was.
“He’s the guy that you can’t help but like. You can tell he was raised well, and his family should be recognized for that,” Roper said. “He had the personality, he had the bearing. he had the attitude and the work ethic that I recognized as the traits that would be right for Mount Holly.”
When asked how he felt when he was told about Officer Herndon’s death, Mayor Brian Hough described a state of shock.
“When your phone rings at 5 o’clock in the morning - you know it’s not good. I was shocked. Honestly I was numb. I sat down and I couldn’t believe I had gotten a phone call of that nature - just out of the blue. Surreal, this whole day has been surreal,” Hough said.
Mayor Hough also described a feeling of devastation of those close to Herndon and what they are going through.
“When you have family and you look at a father and a mother who lost a child today, it breaks your heart. So, we’re all upset, we’re all going to grieve. Make no mistake - that family is devastated. Those officers in there are devastated, they were there,” Hough said.
By 1 p.m., dozens of people had stopped by the Mounty Holly Police Department to drop off food, water and flowers and to show their support for the department.
At 8 a.m., there was still a heavy police presence and Beatty Drive was blocked. Police expect the area to be closed for several hours as detectives investigate.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.
The Internal Affairs Bureau with the Mount Holly Police Department will conduct a separate but parallel investigation to determine whether department policies and procedures were followed during the incident, police say, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.