As police began searching the neighborhood amid what Stiles described as dark and foggy conditions, they heard additional shots in the area, while other people in the vicinity called 911 to report shots fired.
“They were searching the neighborhood for the suspect, and at some point, the officers who were searching came under fire without warning from the suspect,” Stiles said.
One officer was shot and later pronounced dead, Stiles said. While Stiles did not identify him, he described him as a veteran officer.
“The way it appears to me, they were ambushed without warning,” Stiles said.
This appears to be the first fatal shooting of a police officer by a suspect in the United States this year. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization, said that as of Wednesday, 14 police officers had died this year. Most of these deaths were related to traffic accidents, while only one involved a firearm. There have also been three K9 dogs that have died in the line of duty, two of them due to gunshots, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police deaths.
The memorial fund said in a report last year that 50 officers were fatally shot in 2014 and that 15 of those officers were killed in ambush attacks. The number of officers who were shot and killed last year was up from the year before, when 32 officers were shot and killed, but the number was still significantly down from a peak of 127 such deaths per year in the 1970s. The number of officers shot and killed has fallen each decade since the 1970s, reaching 57 deaths per year in the 2000s.
The suspected shooter in Georgia, who was not identified, was shot and wounded by police and taken to an area hospital, authorities said.
Fulton County police officials could not be immediately reached by The Washington Post on Wednesday morning for comment.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our Fulton County officer killed in the line of duty tonight, and our entire Police family— FultonCountyGeorgia (@FultonInfo) March 4, 2015
Two police officers in Florida were wounded during a separate shooting Tuesday that police had also described as an ambush.
A man called 911 to report a shooting on Tuesday at around 5:45 p.m., and members of the Lake Wales (Fla.) Police Department responded, according to an affidavit filled out by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and given to The Post.
“During the investigation, it was determined the suspect initially misused 911 to have officers respond to a false shooting incident with the sole purpose to fire at them upon their arrival,” the affidavit states. “All officers that were interviewed stated they were placed in fear for their lives.”
The two officers who were shot were identified by the sheriff’s office as Officer Benjamin Metz, who was shot in the neck, and Officer John Schwarze, who was shot in the belt. The injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.
This report has been updated with information from the Florida affidavit.
Wesley Lowery contributed to this report.