SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) – Slain Shelby Police Officer Tim Brackeen comes from a religious family. His brother is a Pastor. His parents are missionaries. Faith is the foundation of their lives. There’s no room for hate, not even for the man charged with killing their son, brother, husband, and father.
“With the young man that shot Timothy, I would hope that everyone would forgive this young man and that there would be no hatred among anyone for this. There’s a scripture in the bible where Jesus asks the Lord – ‘forgive them for they know not what they do.’ Sometimes circumstances drive men to do things in split second that they regret later,” Jim Brackeen said.
The Brackeens spoke for the first time since Officer Brackeen was shot early Saturday morning while he attempted to serve Irving Fenner with warrants. Officer Brackeen died Monday morning.
Fenner fled the scene and was the subject of national manhunt. The 23-year-old was arrested during the overnight hours Wednesday in Rhode Island.
Authorities in North Carolina say they’re working to bring him back to Shelby to face first-degree murder charges.
“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.”
Reverend Stephen Brackeen said it has been difficult at times dealing with his older brother’s death.
“As the bible says faith is always sufficient but I will say that difficult days are part of scripture as well,” he said. “And if I can say to the community – lot of people have said, wondering what the answers are, why this happened and folks have said there are no answers and there are plenty of answers in the scripture and I found them there.”
He said he too forgives the accused killer.
“The spirit of God has fallen in a powerful way in my life. I spent time with Timothy and I watched and felt forgiveness, kindness, mercy and the love of Christ in the most real way that I ever experienced in my entire life ” he said.
Jim Brackeen said he and his officer son talked about this day should it ever come.
“I’m a 20-year vet of the Army…I think in the back of my mind having lost fellow soldiers that this is something I already had to deal with,” but he said that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. “Yes there were struggles. In my heart there were struggles but not to the extent that I doubted the forgiveness would be there.”
Mr. Brackeen said the community support has been overwhelming.
Officer Brackeen’s patrol car is now covered with a growing memorial.
Jim Brackeen said he rode with his son and his canine partner in that very cruiser. He couldn’t believe what the community did.
“So I will tell you I did melt down. I had a very serious emotional moment when I saw the cruiser and especially read the cards and saw the flowers of those people who were recognizing Tim’s sacrifice.”
He said his son treasured being a police officer.
“He always treated everyone with respect and dignity and he was an honor to the job that he loved to do,” Jim Brackeen said. “The only thing I would ask now is that everyone look at our law enforcement and see through my son who they truly are because their desire and their heart is to serve the community and protect and provide and that was Timothy’s heart beat. That was his dream to do that.”
The officer’s father said he didn’t want to case to be divisive.
“I would like everyone to keep everything about my son truthful and honest about who he was and not to use it politically or anything like that,” Jim Brackeen said. “And to keep it what it truly was and that is a young man who made a bad mistake and bad choices I think in his life and a police officer who was doing his job.”
Reverend Brackeen added they’re taking comfort in who Tim Brackeen was.
“And that is the key part. Not that Timothy as a policeman – good or bad. That he was a man of God, walked with God, feared God and loved God and knew that he had forgiveness. And now that is our greatest hope because of those things that he has a home in heaven.”