WHITEVILLE N.C. – A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper has died after being shot in the line of duty Wednesday morning.

Officials say trooper Kevin Conner, an 11-year-veteran of the NCSHP, assigned to troop B in Columbus County, was shot and killed on Highway 701 in Whiteville, NC which is west of Wilmington, reported Fox Carolina.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper

Trooper Kevin Conner (NCSHP Twitter)

According to the organization, Conner was stopping a white GMC pickup truck for speeding near Sellers Town Road in Columbus County.

As Trooper Conner was making his initial approach to the vehicle, the agency said the driver fired several shots. As a result, Conner was struck by the gunfire.

Troopers told the media that after murdering Conner, the suspect fled the scene. He reportedly traveled to Fair Bluff.

After local police attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver fled, initiating a brief pursuit, resulting in the suspect’s vehicle being disabled. Consequently, he continued to flee on foot.

According to Fox Carolina, troopers with the NCSHP said the suspect was taken into custody after an extensive search without further incident.

Conner was transported to a local hospital but did not survive his injuries.

“The Highway Patrol family is mourning the loss of a hero and will forever be changed by the tragic events that have occurred,” said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.  “We ask everyone to please keep Trooper Conner’s family and all who knew him in your thoughts and prayers.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Trooper Conner’s family,” said Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “Trooper Conner was killed while protecting and serving his community. We mourn our loss and will continue to support his family. We are grateful for his service and honor the men and women who serve in harm’s way, each and every day.”

Governor Roy Cooper said, “The tragic loss of Trooper Kevin Conner of the NC State Highway Patrol weighs heavily on our hearts. We are forever grateful for his devoted service and selfless commitment to protecting the people of North Carolina. Our prayers are with his family and friends and his colleagues in law enforcement.”

The suspect, 20-year-old Raheem Davis, is charged with first-degree murder and made his first appearance in a Columbus County courtroom Wednesday afternoon. Davis walked into court surrounded by nine officers, some wearing bulletproof vests.

During the appearance, Davis was very brief while answering questions from the judge, limiting his answers to “yes” and “yes, sir.”

The judge ordered that Davis be held under no bond, reported WECT. He faces the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Following the court appearance, District Attorney Jon David said “this was cold-blooded, first-degree murder” and that Trooper Conner, just 15 hours prior, was “patrolling the streets of Columbus County, but now he’s dead.”

David said Davis was driving a stolen pickup truck and speeding in the opposite direction on U.S. 701 prior to being pulled over by Conner in front of a nearby convenience store. David said the deadly shooting was caught on dashcam video and by the store’s surveillance system.

According to David, Conner was “blissfully unaware” as he walked up to the truck and asked Davis why he was speeding, at which point Davis allegedly started firing a gun without saying anything. Conner was struck twice.

A Good Samaritan found Conner about an hour after the confrontation and called 911. Other troopers responded to the scene and watched the dashcam video to identify the suspect, who they found minutes later in the same truck in Fair Bluff.

David said the gun used in the shooting has not been found yet.