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By Tim Stelloh

A Texas sheriff’s sergeant was shot and killed early Monday morning, just moments after he’d gone off duty — and months before he was set to retire, authorities said.

Craig Hutchinson, 54, was a 32-year veteran of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Greg Hamilton said during a news conference.

Craig HutchinsonTravis County Sheriff's Office

Hamilton said that shortly after 1:22 a.m., Hutchinson dialed the sheriff’s office and said there were people running from the back yard of his own home in Round Rock, outside Austin. There appeared to be a confrontation after Hutchinson found them stealing from a shed, Hamilton added.

Fourteen minutes later, a sheriff’s statement said, authorities found Hutchinson near a creek behind the yard suffering from a gunshot wound.

Hutchinson was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, the statement said.

“This guy was a big teddy bear and everybody loved him,” Hamilton told reporters, according to NBC affiliate KXAN.

Hutchinson was set to retire in September, the sheriff noted.

"He was a gentle bear and he taught me everything I know and I loved that guy to death," said Hamilton.