LUMBERTON — John Reed was traveling down Fayetteville Road while on his lunch break a week ago today when the sirens sounded.
Patrol cars from various local agencies, including the Lumberton Police Department, the state Highway Patrol and the Sheriff’s Office, thundered down the road. Reed, the medical director of the emergency department at Southeastern Regional Medical Center and a former sheriff’s deputy, knew this wasn’t a normal call.
An officer was down.
“I was driving my car and noticed there were a number of police cars rolling up the road from different agencies,” said Reed, who began practicing emergency medicine at Southeastern Regional in 2009, after directing emergency operations at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville for six years.
“I’ve been a deputy sheriff myself and know that when you see vehicles rolling down the highway like that from different departments, it usually means an officer needs assistance,” he said.
The swarm of patrol cars was racing toward the Shell station at 5030 Fayetteville Road, where moments earlier Master Police Officer Jeremiah Goodson was mortally shot while attempting to serve a warrant on 27-year-old Marques Brown. As Goodson approached Brown’s vehicle, Brown began firing, hitting Goodson more than once, authorities have said.
District Attorney Johnson Britt plans to seek the death penalty against Brown,who is accused of first-degree murder..
“I kept rolling up the road, came to the scene and identified myself and helped the medics get him to the hospital,” Reed said.
Paramedics had arrived just seconds before Reed and were doing CPR on Goodson. Reed described the scene.
“It’s typical of what you’d expect with an officer-involved shooting,” he said. “It’s chaotic. People running around, making sure the scene was clear and the shooter was in custody.”
Reed said Goodson wasn’t in uniform, and that in the midst of the chaos he wasn’t sure if he was working on the officer or the shooter.
“I knew immediately that he was seriously injured,” he said.
Reed said he worked on Goodson in the ambulance and at the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He couldn’t provide much detail because of federal laws.
“I’ll just go as far as saying we were doing CPR, and that means he’s not responding,” Reed said.
As many as 50 of Goodson’s family members, friends and co-workers came to the hospital. Reed, who’s practiced emergency medicine for 25 years, said it’s not the first time he’s tried to save a fallen officer. As as a former sheriff’s deputy for Westmoreland County, Pa., he was on the medical component of the agency’s SWAT team.
“We were trained as sheriff’s deputies and we assisted Pennsylvania State Police and their medical component on their SWAT,” he said. “We were trained in firearms training and SWAT training.”
Reed said that the death of a law enforcement officer, while “a very unfortunate tragedy,” highlights the dangers of such positions.
“This case makes it painfully clear that these officers put their lives on the line every day, as do firefighters and paramedics who are out there serving the public,” he said. “… It makes death a very real possibility for anybody who is involved in law enforcement. You can train for it to try to minimize officers being injured, but you can’t prevent it 100 percent.”
There has been an outpouring of support since Goodson’s death. People have brought goods and money to the Police Department; a memorial fund has been set up to assist Goodson’s family; and a Facebook group titled “Rest In Peace ~~ Jeremiah Goodson” had more than 1,100 members as of this morning.
Lumberton resident Amy Mercer and her husband Jamie are selling decals bearing Goodson’s name, the date of his death and his patrol car number, 45. She said that Sign City donated the first 600 stickers, which are are about 5.5 inches in height and cost $4.
Mercer said she gave an envelope with $770 in it to Goodson’s wife Lemetria on Monday. She has ordered more stickers to be printed.
They can be purchased at several businesses and offices in Lumberton, including Pizza Hut, Bryant’s Gun and Pawn, Sassy Gals, the Stomped Grape and even the Xpress Depot and Dairy Queen on Fayetteville Road where Goodson was shot.
“I was thinking about them and trying to bring them some positive business,” she said. “… Our hopes are that everyone will purchase one and place it in the back window of their car. I hope that someday when Officer Goodson’s children see these on vehicles, that they may smile and remember how loved and supported Officer Goodson was and still is in this town and county.”
Stickers are also available at the Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department, the Fire Department and City Hall, by calling Mercer at 910-733-6237, or by contacting her on Facebook under the name Amy Smith Mercer.
Goodson’s funeral will be at 11 a.m. today in the gymnasium at Lumberton High School. The slain officer’s body will be carried by horse-drawn wagon to Gardens of Faith Cemetery at 5190 Fayetteville Road.