Michelle Young never met slain Mooresville K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon.
But she pushed her 1-year-old son several blocks in a stroller, flanked by her three young daughters and teenage stepdaughter, to join several thousand other people for a vigil in Sheldon’s memory Wednesday night on the Mooresville Town Hall lawn. They were there to mourn his loss and celebrate his life.
“I didn’t know him personally, but I felt like I knew him because he was an officer in our town,” Young said after arriving an hour before the vigil. “It hit me so hard that someone so selfish would take his life.”
Sheldon, a 32-year-old officer who also served on the department’s SWAT team, was shot during what investigators called a routine traffic stop late Saturday on West Plaza Drive and died at a hospital.
The suspect, 28-year-old Michael Aldana of Mooresville, was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Mooresville police.
Fellow Mooresville Police Officer Andrew Beck told the gathering “there was no better cop” than Sheldon. “The man was scared of nothing, no matter if it was the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere,” Beck said.
Sheldon also was known for his smile, “and he’d be making fun of me right now for crying, I promise you that.
“I promise you we will keep fighting,” Beck said as if addressing Sheldon. “And we love you.”
“Everyone who knew him is just heartbroken,” longtime Mooresville artist Cotton Ketchie, 74, told The Charlotte Observer on the lawn before the vigil began. “It’s galvanized the community. You will see a lot of tears here tonight ... It’s just been devastating, but we will come back.”
‘This is a celebration’
An enormous American flag hung from Mooresville Fire Department ladder truck No. 5 as ministers led the crowd in prayer, and other speakers recalled Sheldon’s dedication to others.
“His sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Sarah West, who volunteers with the Mooresville Adopt-A-Cop effort, said to applause.
Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” and Mooresville-based Lowe’s Cos. Inc. provided blue light bulbs for everyone to use at home in support of police officers.
Sheldon’s father, Harry Sheldon of Charlotte, said officials with Lowe’s told him the company will fund a memorial to his son and asked that he design it. He told the crowd he’d like to have local children submit designs.
Then he turned to Mooresville police officers in attendance and said he wanted them to choose the winner.
Harry Sheldon also thanked everyone for attending the vigil. “This is a celebration,” he said. “This is a victory. Jordan was a man of God.”
A GoFundMe account is raising money to help the officer’s family.