STATESVILLE, N.C. -- Friends and firefighters poured into the auditorium at Statesville High School Sunday to pay their respects to the family of Marcus Kauffman, the volunteer firefighter shot when he surprised burglars at his rural Rowan County home nearly three weeks ago.

Kauffman Marco to his family and friends fought for his life for more than two and a half weeks at Carolinas Medical Center, before his family removed him from life support. He died Friday.

He leaves behind a wife and a child due in February.

Trey Hoshall, the chief of Scotch-Irish Fire Department in Woodleaf, said Kauffman was a dedicated volunteer firefighter at the department for six years.

If we needed something done he was here to do it. If he said he was going to do something, it got done, said Hoshall. He was very passionate about everything he did -- very easy to get along with.

The firefighters at Scotch-Irish watched reports of Kauffman s improvement on a Facebook page dedicated to him, and were certain he would pull through.

There've been ups and downs, but everything seemed to always correct and look like everything was going to pull through, said Hoshall.

They were heartsick when he didn t.

Shock, is how Hoshall described it. It's disbelief it's shock. It's hard to swallow. We were thinking he was going to make a recovery -- we knew it wouldn't be a full recovery but he was going to be alive -- and to hear otherwise has been hard to cope with.

The fire department is sponsoring a benefit dinner to help Kauffman s wife and family on January 17-18. They are asking for pre-orders for the $8, half-chicken plates by January 10. Anyone interested can call 704-431-2559 to order, or find more information on the Memorial Dinner Facebook page.

More information about helping Kauffman s family can also be found on the family s Praying for Marco Facebook page.

He's going to be greatly missed here, said Hoshall.

Kauffman s funeral will be held at the school auditorium Monday at 1 p.m. A private burial will follow in Woodleaf.

At least two of the four suspects have court dates Monday in Rowan County, including the alleged gunman.

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