Brackeen family, Shelby Police marking one-year anniversary of officer's line of duty death

(Coleen Harry | WBTV)
(Coleen Harry | WBTV)
(Coleen Harry | WBTV)
(Coleen Harry | WBTV)

SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - September 12 is an extremely difficult day in Shelby.

"Hard days. Hard days," says Stephen Brackeen. "People are remembered most for their extraordinary days, but they're made on their simple days and the simple days are what I miss of Tim."

Shelby Police K-9 Officer Tim Brackeen was shot on September 10, 2016, while he attempted to serve a warrant. He died two days later at the hospital.

Officer Brackeen's brother, Stephen, is a youth pastor. He told WBTV that his family left flowers at the corner near Parkview Street where the shooting happened.

"We just wanted to mark the site so that the community knew we can never forget," Pastor Brackeen said. "We put it up Sunday morning to mark the day when Tim was shot, so I think the 10th marks an important day for the PD and for our family – just knowing that's the day everything began."

City officials held a moment of silence at noon Tuesday -  the one-year anniversary of Officer Brackeen's death.

"Thought it was really nice to give people just a moment to stop during their day to kinda think about this past year, and think about the Brackeen family and what they're facing and what they've gone through" Chief Tim Ledford said.

Early Tuesday morning, officers placed a wreath outside the police department.

"I don't really know that there's words for how you describe what that 12-month period has been like, but it's definitely been challenging for everybody," Chief Ledford said. "Obviously the difficult part is dealing with the loss. You deal with the loss of life."

Chief Ledford says Officer Brackeen was the first Shelby officer shot and killed in the line of duty since 1918.

Police say Brackeen was trying to serve a warrant to 23-year-old Irving Fenner. Investigators say there was a struggle and Fenner allegedly shot Officer Brackeen.

Police say Fenner ran from the scene and family members allegedly helped him get out of North Carolina. After a nationwide search, Fenner was arrested in Rhode Island. He's currently sitting in jail awaiting trial.

The Chief says the death of his officer has not forced any changes in the department.

"Procedurally, no. Obviously, when something like this happens, you go back and you look and you say what happened, how did it happen and things like that but from a procedural standpoint  - no we've not made any changes," he said. "It's just a loss feeling and it takes a while for that to go away."

The Shelby Police Department has 108 civilian employees and sworn officers.

The Chief says one the of difficulties of the past year is trying to keep the department balanced.

"We try to find this balance of how do we take care of the Brackeen family, how do we take care of our PD family and still continue to move forward. That's part of the balance that we try to strike."

Officer Brackeen's brother, Pastor Stephen, is now a Chaplain for Shelby Police.

Outside Bethel Baptist Church where Pastor Brackeen works, there is a flag.

"My dad and I are really excited about the flag. They flew it in at the American Legion World Series. It has Tim's name on it and his badge number," Pastor Brackeen said. "I just thought there's no more fitting place for it to fly for the 10th , 11th, 12th than here on the site where everything took place."

The flag is flying near the scene where his brother was shot.

Pastor Brackeen says he plans to fly the flag every year.

"Long as I'm here. As long as that flag holds up I want to fly it on the 10th, 11th and 12th on this site" he said.

Because in Shelby, those will always be difficult days.

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