1 Phoenix police officer killed, 1 wounded in shootout

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Phoenix police officer died and another was in critical condition after a shootout Monday that also killed a man wanted on a felony warrant, authorities said.

A member of the fugitive apprehension team died of his wounds at a hospital a few hours after the 3:30 p.m. shooting, Police Chief Daniel Garcia said.

"It’s a very difficult time for the Phoenix Police Department and the City of Phoenix," said Garcia. "I ask the citizens of Phoenix to keep both families and officers in their prayers."

The officer's name wasn't immediately released. Garcia said he was a 21-year veteran.

"The other officer is fighting for his life," Garcia said at a news conference. The name of that nine-year department veteran also was being withheld by police officials.

Monday night, we were told the officer was out of surgery and was recovering in the ICU at St. Joseph's Hospital.

The shootout occurred after the suspect fled in his car, caused a three-vehicle collision, and ran away on foot before exchanging gunfire with officers outside a check cashing and title loan business, authorities said.

The suspect came around a corner with a gun and a third officer was able to fire on the suspect and stop the threat, police spokesman Detective James Holmes said.

The suspect's name was not immediately released.

"I could see in his eyes," witness Chuck De La Riva said of the suspect. "The cops were moving back, and he had the shot; took the shot and they dropped."

De La Riva who was getting gas at the time estimates he was 150 feet from the shooting. He described he won't soon forget the look on the suspect's face.

"Intent, intent to kill," De La Riva told 3TV.

Multiple witnesses reported hearing about eight shots fired. The crime scene is surrounded by strip malls and neighborhoods.

"It was so much chaos, so many people running back and forth to get away from the scene," said Wayne Monton who works nearby.

Witnesses who later learned one of the detectives shot died at the hospital are heartbroken and scarred over what they saw Monday.

"My prayers are with them and their families," said De La Riva. "They are heroes; they should be honored for what they do. Without them, who is going to protect us?"

Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos says the officers involved worked daily to track down dangerous fugitives. "These detectives are some of the best detectives we have," says Martos. "Their particular job is to go and locate and arrest felons, individuals who are wanted for violent offenses."

An 83-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man also suffered minor injuries in the car accident that closed an intersection for more than an hour.

Nick Cusson, manager of a restaurant in a shopping mall near the shooting scene, said he heard more than a dozen shots just a few minutes after arriving at work.

"The next thing you know, the whole parking lot is scattered with people," Cusson said. "Then within about 30 seconds, we see all these cops driving up."

Cusson said he had noticed several unmarked police cars parked nearby just before the shooting but didn't think much of it.

"Then I guess there was a shootout," he said. "We were all looking out the window. We were kind of curious. We weren't sure they were gunshots at first."

Cusson said he was closing his shop because the entire area had been cordoned off by police.

"No one can come pick their food up and we can't get delivery drivers out," he said.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.