EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Wednesday in connection with the fatal shooting of a police officer at a gas station last year.

Scott Hyden of Highland entered the plea in a Madison County court in the slaying of Pontoon Beach Officer Tyler Timmons at a gas station, the Belleville-News-Democrat reported.

Timmins, 36, was a 14-year law enforcement veteran investigating what he suspected was a stolen vehicle at a gas station off Interstate 270, shortly before 8 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2021.

Illinois State Police said Hyden shot Timmins in the face and neck.

Backed by dozens of local police officers and other family members at Wednesday’s hearing, Timmin’s wife, Linsey Timmons, also a police officer, said the shooting was a “senseless act of violence.”

“The outcome of the court hearing does not change what Hyden took from my family and me, but we are grateful that Hyden will never be able to harm another person for the rest of his life,” she said.

Hyden was arrested at the scene of the shooting and charged with first-degree murder, felony motor vehicle theft and weapons charges.

Because Hyden killed a police officer performing his official duty, his plea ensures he’ll serve a life sentence.

“This was a brutal murder of a hero who dedicated his life to serve and protect us all,” Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine said in a statement. “Now at least the justice system has ensured that Officer Tyler Timmins’s murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

“Today justice was served, but it does not take away the pain our department has felt from this senseless act,” Pontoon Beach Police Chief Chris Modrusic said at the hearing.

Pontoon Beach is a suburb northeast of St. Louis, Missouri.