The police officer killed in Abbotsford, B.C., on Monday has been identified as Const. John Davidson, who worked in policing for 24 years.

The Abbotsford Police Department described Davidson as an "amazing colleague and friend" and "a dedicated police officer." He began his law enforcement career in the United Kingdom and was hired by the Abbotsford force in 2006.

He leaves behind his wife and three adult children.

Davidson was killed while trying to arrest a suspect who had allegedly opened fire in the parking lot of a shopping centre in the 3200 block of Mount Lehman Road just before noon PT. 

Police had been responding to a call about a stolen vehicle when a man began firing at the caller and other witnesses with a shotgun. When police arrived, they returned fire, and Davidson was shot.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich said Davidson died doing his duty.

"We train our police officers that when somebody is putting people's lives in danger and there's an active shooter we no longer wait for cover, the first person in goes. John Davidson was the first person in and away he went," Rich said.

"He died protecting you and me."

abbotsford police shooting

The shooting unfolded after a 911 caller reported a possible stolen vehicle on Mount Lehman Road. When officers arrived, there was an exchange of gunfire. (Chris Corday/CBC)

The suspect has now been named as Oscar Arfmann. The Alberta man in his 60s was injured in the subsequent takedown and escorted to hospital.

He is currently in police custody and has been charged with first-degree murder. Under the Canadian Criminal Code, the killing of a peace officer is automatically a first-degree murder charge.

Both the Independent Investigations Office of B.C., the province's civilian-led police investigation agency, and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team are looking into the shooting. 

Memorial growing

In the meantime, members of the community are coming to terms with the loss of a man described as a "hero."

Abbotsford Police

Officers line the highway — here, the Brunette Avenue overpass — to pay their respects to an officer shot in the line of duty in Abbotsford. (Bill Cook)

On Monday night around 11 p.m. Davidson's body was transferred from Abbotsford to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., under full police escort.

Officers from the Abbotsford Police Department and local RCMP detachments lined the highway to pay their respects.

At the Abbotsford police headquarters, ordinary citizens did the same, lighting candles, placing flowers and leaving handwritten cards outside the station's doors.

Nicole Provost

Nicole Provost with Const. John Davidson, her high school liason, at her Grade 12 graduation. (Supplied)

Some of those condolences come from the community's youngest members, who Davidson had worked hard to connect with.

Nicole Provost, 23, was a student at  W.J. Mouat Secondary School between 2008 and 2012 where Const. Davidson worked as a high school liaison.

She said he was truly one of her friends.

"He just laughed at pretty much everything students said and he made students feel good about themselves and that they were enough no matter what," Provost said. "He was a really nice guy to have in your life as a teenager."

Dorreen Paul abby shooting

Dorreen Paul and her daughter paid their respects to the fallen officer in front of Abbotsford police headquarters. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Dorreen Paul came to the vigil with her four-year-old daughter who she says wants to be a police officer when she grows up. Paul, who was born and raised in the Fraser Valley city, said it was important for them to be there.

"It's the community and he was there to protect us. She wants to be a part of that," she said. "We're sorry about the loss. We'll keep their family in our prayers."

Abbotsford police tweeted their thanks to the many people who stopped by, writing "in the deepest darkness there can be light. We see you. So many of you. Thank you for being there for us."