SHELBY, N.C. -- A processional for the body of a fallen Shelby Police officer shut down I-85 and brought hundreds to show support.
Dozens of police cruisers with flashers on and sirens blaring escorted Officer Tim Brackeen from CMC Main in Charlotte where he passed away Monday more than 50 miles to a Shelby funeral home. Along the way, flag-draped fire trucks and community members lined overpasses to see the processional breeze by.
"I hope they know they're not alone, they have the community standing behind them," said Kara Lesper, from a Belmont overpass.
"I want to pay my respects to the officer, to his family, to all his brothers and sisters in blue," said Dawn Caniff. "Very emotional, this just hits home to me; my dad was a police officer for 25 years, so to see this happening is just breaking my heart."
The crowds grew larger near Shelby. Spectators lined the streets leading to the funeral home. Some held flags, balloons or handwritten signs as the hearse carrying Officer Brackeen ended its journey.
"Our community is one of the strongest communities around," said Jeffrey Johnson, of Shelby.
Law enforcement officers from the Highway Patrol, Cleveland, Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties participated in the processional. Several civilian biker groups joined in as well.
"It was pretty intense. I don't think I have the words to describe it," said Angie Swafford, of the NC Patriot Guard Riders.
Emotions ran high as Brackeen's flag-draped body was taken into the funeral home on a stretcher. His brother Steve led a prayer with his brothers in blue.
"We pray for the future ahead, I pray for this community to heal," he said.
Shelby officers surrounded Brackeen's family. Many officers cried and embraced as they come to terms with the loss of one of their own.
"They've taken pledges to willfully stand, knowing there is danger; they are warriors of faith," said Steve Brackeen. "I pray you will bring peace to their lives, their children."
While Brackeen offered prayers for the officers and their families, his family will never be the same. His brother leaves behind a wife and a daughter.
Brackeen served the Shelby Police Department for 12 years, most recently in the K-9 unit. He was serving a warrant Saturday when police say Irving Fenner, Jr., shot him. Brackeen held on for a little while but died on Monday at CMC Main.
His death has put his entire community in mourning.
"I came here early and posted the flags to pay honor and tribute to Tim Brackeen for his services to the community; he was a loved member and a loved servant of the community," said Ty Eckhart of the NC Patriot Guard Riders.
"What these men and women do for us every day is awesome; People don't realize it, so to see the love and support of the other officers and the fire department, it's nice to see. They need to know that at the end of the day they do have love," said Lesper.
The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's office released a statement Wednesday on the autopsy of Officer Timothy Brackeen saying he, "suffered a lethal gunshot wound to the chest."
Authorities arrested the man accused of killing a Shelby police officer early Wednesday morning in Rhode Island.
A service for Officer Brackeen will be held at Bethel Baptist church Wednesday night at 7pm.
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