PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) — Rifle-toting police swarmed into a Baltimore suburb where a female officer was fatally injured Monday, searching for suspects believed to be armed after witnesses reported hearing a pop and seeing the officer run over by a Jeep.
Residents in a leafy community of suburban homes where the officer was injured described seeing her on the ground, badly hurt. Several people tried to keep her alive, but she was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Tony Kurek told The Associated Press his adult son was outside in the family’s yard Monday afternoon in the northeast Baltimore County community of Perry Hall when the son saw the officer with her gun drawn, confronting the occupants of a Jeep.
“The next thing he heard was a pop, and he saw the Jeep take off and run right over her,” said Kurek. The car left skid marks behind, he said, adding the woman was bleeding from her head.
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Logan Kurek, who is a volunteer firefighter, said he heard his younger brother “frantically screaming” and ran outside to perform CPR.
The officer was responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle when she encountered at least one suspect and was “critically injured,” police spokesman Cpl. Shawn Vinson said. The encounter may have begun as a burglary in progress, said Vinson, who added that one home on the block had damage to a patio door.
By Monday evening, police said, it was still too soon to know exactly how the officer was fatally injured. But they confirmed a homicide investigation was underway.
“What exactly happened, we are not sure yet until an autopsy is performed,” Vinson said at a news conference Monday. He said he had no information about whether she had fired her own weapon.
A massive manhunt was under way for “multiple suspects,” Vinson added. Aviation and canine units were involved in the ongoing manhunt, which would continue through the night.
“The dark will not hamper our investigation,” he told reporters Monday evening, adding the suspects’ Jeep was ditched on a road and had been recovered.
Vinson said the family of the officer, who would have been a four-year veteran in July, has been notified.
Officers were searching the area Monday night for suspects “who we believe are armed and dangerous,” Police Chief Terrence Sheridan noted earlier.
On Monday afternoon, Kurek’s neighbor, Dahle Amendt, said he had just settled into his recliner for a rest when he heard a woman’s voice outside his house.
“I heard, ‘Get out of the car!’ ‘Get out of the car!’ Get out of the car!’ at least three times, and then a pop,” Amendt said.
Amendt said his wife also ran outside and tried to revive the officer. Vinson confirmed such accounts but said the officer was pronounced dead at a hospital where she was taken.
“This is a shock. It’s a quiet community. It’s just so sad,” Amendt said.
Investigators urged residents in a sizable swath of Perry Hall to stay hunkered down inside their homes and lock all doors and windows as officers search the community fringed with woodlands.
Three elementary schools were on alert status for hours, with students and teachers told to stay in their school buildings as police continued a search for the suspects. But by Monday evening, parents were allowed to come to the schools to pick up their youngsters.
At a gas station located at a cordoned-off intersection, some residents gathered to watch three helicopters of TV news crews buzzing over the neighborhood. An unmarked car with law enforcers, including one officer cradling a rifle in the back seat, drove past and was waved through by police manning the intersection.
Heavily armed officers with a trained canine also could be seen scrambling across neatly manicured backyards. A pair of officers elsewhere, with guns drawn, entered a home’s front door during the search.
“It’s pretty scary,” said Sukvir Singh, an employee of the gas station.
Rankin reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie also contributed from Richmond.