Police say 38-year-old deputy Charlie Brown was responding to a call about an armed suspect in Williamston, about 100 miles east of Raleigh.
When officers arrived, officials say 36-year-old Jerry Lee Pace Jr. was armed and resisting instructions. They say Pace fired his gun and law enforcement officers fired back, killing Pace.
Brown was a 15-year veteran of law enforcement. He is survived by his wife, Cindy, and two daughters.
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident.