RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Ned Byrd was killed after being shot in the line of duty late Thursday night.
Outside of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, friends say he’s well known in many communities across the Triangle, including cross-fit and jiu-jitsu communities.
Jason Culbreth is the head professor at Cary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He became friends with Byrd almost 20 years ago when Byrd began lessons at his gym.
“Everybody that met him became his friend, I mean he was one of the most liked people I’ve ever met,” Culbreth said.
He said Culbreth was always the first to show up to an event, the last to leave, and the first to lend a hand.
He said it was that desire to make an impact that drove Byrd to becoming a deputy.
“Becoming a deputy meant everything to him,” Culbreth said.
Byrd first joined the sheriff’s office in 2009 as a detention officer. Donnie Harrison was the sheriff at the time, Harrison said Byrd’s goal was to become a deputy. He reached that goal in March 2018.
“He tried a couple of times and finally made it,” Harrison said. “He was one happy person, and I was one happy person for him.”
Billy Dowey is the head instructor at Royce Gracie Ju Jitsu Academy of Raleigh, he’s also known Byrd for about two decades. He described Byrd as a strong competitor, but always put others first.
“He thinks of himself last most of the time, most of his free time was done helping people,” Dowey said.
While Byrd didn’t have any blood relatives in the area, he had family.
“Everyone he knew was his family as far as he was concerned, he really was a unique individual,” Dowey said.
Culbreth said Byrd was like family to him and his wife.
“We’re not the only ones that are gonna miss him like we do, so it’s been a really tough day, we’re getting by, but we’re very sad and miss our friend,” Culbreth said.
Culbreth said Byrd competed nationally and internationally in jiu-jitsu and won titles.
He was 48 years old.