PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix police officer and a suspect have been hospitalized in critical condition after exchanging gunfire during an encounter that the police chief called an ambush.
Police said the shooting happened at about 8 p.m. Thursday after the officer in a marked police vehicle attempted a traffic stop in north Phoenix and the driver initially refused to stop.
Preliminary information indicated that after the driver stopped, the suspect shot the approaching officer, who returned fire and struck the suspect, said Sgt. Mercedes Fortune, a department spokeswoman.
“In my opinion, I believe he was ambushed,” Police Chief Jeri Williams said Thursday night about the wounded officer.
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People in the city have recently acted more aggressively toward officers and officers are uneasy, Williams said.
“They don’t know when they make a traffic stop what’s going to happen in that traffic stop,” she said, “But at the same time, day in and day out, they get up, they put this uniform on, they put a vest on and they go out and protect our community because that’s what our officers do day in and day out.
“This goes to show there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop,” said Ken Crane, president of Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the police officers’ union.
Authorities did not identify the officer or the suspect and did not provide details about their injuries.
Fortune said the circumstances of the shooting were under investigation and that it was not immediately known why the officer tried to pull over the vehicle..