SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - Friday afternoon a Shelby police officer, killed in the line of duty, was honored by thousands of people who packed into a baseball stadium to remember him.
Officer Tim Brackeen was shot early Saturday morning while serving an arrest warrant in the area of Parkview Street. Brackeen died from those injuries Monday morning at Carolinas Medical Center, in Charlotte.
Crowds have packed memorials held Wednesday and Thursday nights to honor Brackeen at Bethel Baptist Church in Shelby.
Friday afternoon, an estimated 8,000 family, friends, officers and residents packed into Keeter Stadium, the baseball stadium located on the campus of Shelby High School.
Officer Brackeen's younger brother, Rev. Stephen Brackeen, officiated the funeral.
"Lord, I'm thankful for all these K-9 officers that stand behind me and I know that Timothy would love that the most," Rev. Stephen Brackeen said during the service.
"That was his favorite place to be - with those dogs," he added later. "Scars of knuckles that fought for freedom and fought for safety. The marks of his arms as he would run through terrible places to chase anyone who dared to run from Ciko [Brackeen's K-9 partner]."
Speakers included Brackeen's pastor, co-workers, the mayor of Shelby and Governor Pat McCrory.
"Our state mourns - not only for the family of the Brackeens - but for the entire city of Shelby," McCrory said. "Tim was the best of North Carolina and frankly the best of the United States of America."
"He didnt ask to be a hero, he volunteered to be a hero," McCrory continued. "He just wanted to keep this community safe and the state even safer. Sadly, his life was ended far too short. So as we gather here today, we are comforted that as a man of faith, we know that he is gone to a better place."
"I wanna let the people of North Carolina know and the people of the United States know that we lost a hero this past week," McCrory said. "And we need the rest of the nation and the rest of North Carolina to never forget Tim Brackeen and all the police officers throughout our nation."
McCrory then asked the crowd to stand up and cheer for Officer Brackeen, which he said was fitting since they were in a baseball stadium
Rev. Brackeen delivered the opening prayer, eulogy and gave the sermon.
"Timothy gave me one of the finest gifts I believe a brother can give to another brother," he said. "As I watch Timothy fight the battle of his life, I thought 'that is who I want to be. That is who I want to teach my children to model their battle after'."
"God knows our pain," he said during an emotional speech. "He knows our grief because he let his Son come take on human flesh and Jesus' life was not taken from him for he laid his life down for you and for me."
"Timothy is more alive today than he has ever been. And he is alive because the Lord Jesus Christ is alive," Rev. Brackeen said. "But the tomb cannot hold the son of God and it will not hold my brother! For Jesus is coming again and you must be ready."
Three songs were sang during the funeral from the Faith Baptist Trio, a group from Officer Brackeen's church, The Rupps and gospel singer Mark Schultz, who flew in Friday afternoon to sing at the funeral.
The North Carolina Trooper's Association Caisson Unit took part in the funeral, helping escort Officer Brackeen's body.
A procession took Brackeen's body from the funeral service to Sunset Cemetery, where he was laid to rest. During the burial service, a last radio call to honor Brackeen was played over the loud speaker.
Officer Brackeen was a K-9 Officer for the Shelby Police Department, where he served for more than 12 years. He was presented with the "Officer of the Year" award in 2012. He was married for 18 years and had a daughter.
Brackeen's family spoke to WBTV Wednesday night and said they are ready to forgive the man accused of shooting Officer Brackeen in the torso, fatally wounding him.
"I would honor the opportunity when this young man comes back to be able to talk with him and tell him we forgive him," Jim Brackeen said. "There's no hatred with us a family, and have the opportunity maybe to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to him that he would not spend eternity in the sinner's hell but have the opportunity to be saved."
That man, 23-year-old Irving Fenner Jr. is currently being held in jail in Rhode Island where he was arrested early Wednesday morning.
Fenner was arraigned and is fighting attempts to extradite him back to North Carolina to face charges. Investigators say it could take weeks to get him back in the state.
Jim Brackeen, fought back tears Thursday night and reiterated that his family harbors no hatred for the man accused of killing his son.
"If my son was here, my son would tell him that he does not hate him and that there is no hatred and I want to share that with him," Jim Brackeen said.
He said the support the family has seen from the community has been "amazing to see."
"I don't think a father could have more gratitude to a community than I have for these folks that would come out to a fallen police officer and show their gratitude the way that you see – you see the flowers" Jim Brackeen said. "He was my best friend and so there are going to be times that's going to be very difficult."