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Good Samaritan Killed in North Carolina Was a Single Dad Raising Toddler

A man who was shot to death in North Carolina on Friday after trying to help a stranded driver has been identified as 26-year-old Jefferson Heavner.

Heavner's aunt, Crystal Steagall, told NBC News that he was a single father caring for his 17-month-old son, Brentlee.

Jefferson Heavner and his son. WNCN

Heavner was driving an icy road on Friday afternoon in Catawba County, northwest of Charlotte, when he encountered a vehicle that had spun out, officials said.

When Heavner and two other people pulled over to help, they found that the driver, Marvin Lee, was "allegedly under the influence of either drugs or alcohol and was not cooperating," Sheriff Coy Reid told NBC News on Friday.

When the group decided to call the police, Lee overheard them talking.

"He got out of the car and started shooting," Reid said. "The three people took off running, but the gunman hit one of the individuals. He then approached the victim, stood over [him] and fired multiple shots."

Heavner was pronounced dead at the scene. Lee refused to leave his car until a tactical team, which included an armored vehicle, arrived at the scene, Reid said.

Marvin Lee Courtesy Catawba County Sheriff's Office

Lee, 27, was charged with murder. It was unclear Sunday if he had a lawyer, and no phone number was associated with an address listed on sheriff's records.

Heavner was unemployed at the time of his death, but he used to work for Time Warner Cable and Steagall described him as a handy man who was always fixing cars and working odd jobs. He had been raising Brentlee on his own since last spring, after separating from the boy's mother, Steagall told NBC News, adding that Heavner's mother is now caring for the child.

"Jefferson was always willing to help out in situations like this, especially during the snow and ice that has hit the NC roads," Steagall wrote on a GoFundMe page created Saturday. "This was a senseless crime that took a son, brother and father from a family that loves him dearly."

The page, which was set up to help cover funeral expenses and support Brentlee, requested $5,000; by 8:30 p.m. ET, it had received more than $15,000.