Two police officers were shot and one — a sergeant who in 2016 helped rescue two little girls buried under a collapsed roof — was killed Sunday when they confronted an armed suspect while working on a car-burglary sting operation in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, officials said.
Gunfire erupted at 1:59 a.m. when the officers, one working undercover, approached two suspects they spotted allegedly trying to break into a car, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said at an early morning news conference.
“The officers approached one suspect, patted him down where they found what they believed to be a weapon,” Smith said. “They asked him about it. He armed himself and fired upon our officers.”
Sgt. Wytasha Carter, 44, was shot and killed in the encounter, officials said in a statement.
A second officer was shot and wounded, Smith said. He was in critical condition at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital, Smith said.
One suspect was shot and wounded in the confrontation, while a second was placed under arrest, he said. The condition of the wounded suspect and the names of both were not immediately released.
Carter is the first Birmingham Police officer killed in the line of duty in 14 years, and the 52nd in the history of the department, officials said.
“This is one of the roughest hours of your career,” said Smith, who was appointed police chief in June. “There’s not a chief, not an officer that ever wants to have to deal with this. This is a very, very difficult thing for the family and for the department.”
Smith said the officers were part of a special detail working to curb a recent rash of car break-ins in the downtown Birmingham area. He said one officer was working undercover, while others were in uniform.
The officer working undercover spotted the suspects who appeared to be trying door handles of parked cars, officials said. The officer called for backup and Carter, in uniform, responded, officials said.
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SOURCE: ABC News, Mark Osborne and Bill Hutchinson