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San Antonio police arrest man wanted in killing of officer targeted for ‘the uniform’

Otis Tyrone McKane, 31, was arrested on Monday, Nov. 21, as a suspect in the fatal ambush shooting of a San Antonio police officer on Sunday, Nov. 20. (Video: Reuters)

Police in San Antonio said Monday that they had arrested a man wanted in the ambush killing of an officer fatally shot a day earlier.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said during a briefing that a SWAT team had arrested Otis Tyrone McKane. The police chief said that McKane was arrested without incident following a sprawling manhunt sparked by the killing of Detective Benjamin Marconi, who was slain while writing a traffic ticket in front of police headquarters on Sunday morning.

McKane is “the person we believe is responsible for the cold and calcuated murder of Detective Marconi,” McManus said during a briefing late Monday afternoon.

“We are relieved to have taken him into custody without a further loss of life,” McManus said.

Police said they still do not know a motive for Marconi’s death, and McManus declined to say what led authorities to the 31-year-old McKane. During a briefing earlier in the day, McManus said police did not believe the officer’s death was tied to another attack in St. Louis that occurred hours later on Sunday.

“I will say that it is certainly a coincidence, but we’re not going to venture to say that it’s connected,” McManus said.

‘Ultimate act of cowardice’: Three officers in 3 cities targeted and shot, one fatally

Marconi was one of three officers shot Sunday in attacks that police described as ambushes, a spate of targeted shootings that also wounded police officials in Missouri and Florida. The other two officers — who, like Marconi, were sitting inside their patrol cars when they were shot — are expected to survive.

These shootings occurred four months after eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were gunned down in separate ambushes just days apart, attacks that added to fears among law enforcement and have helped fuel an increase in the number of officers killed by gunfire this year.

Officers in San Antonio “absolutely felt targeted,” McManus said during a briefing Monday morning. “I feel they were targeted.”

McManus said that he believed the attacker in San Antonio was going after a member of law enforcement rather than specifically targeting Marconi.

A manhunt is underway in Texas for a gunman who shot and killed a San Antonio police detective sitting in a squad car during a routine traffic stop, authorities said. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says the suspect should be considered "extremely dangerous." (Video: Reuters)

“I think the uniform was the target, and anyone, the first person who happened along, was the person that he targeted,” McManus said.

During the briefing after McKane was arrested, McManus said that officers still remain wary in the face of other threats facing law enforcement.

“The fact that he’s been taken into custody, that does not negate the fact that there are people out there who are still targeting police officers,” McManus said. “So our officers will always be vigilant and on guard for that.”

McKane told reporters that he was upset about a child custody hearing and “lashed out at someone who didn’t deserve it.”

President-elect Donald Trump spoke to Marconi’s son and offered his condolences, according to Hope Hicks, Trump’s spokeswoman. In a Facebook posting that was shared publicly by someone else, an account appearing to belong to Marconi’s son said that he spoke on the phone to Trump.

Police had also said Monday that McKane had briefly visited the department’s headquarters not long before the shooting, although McManus said investigators were not sure what prompted this visit.

“I don’t know why he was at headquarters,” McManus said. “We have some ideas why we believe he may have been in headquarters, but we’re not quite sure.”

Police had McKane under surveillance for a few hours before they took him into custody, McManus said.

At the time of his arrest, McKane was driving a car with an unidentified woman and a two-year-old, and McManus said he did not know about the relationship between any of them.

On Tuesday, reports in San Antonio said that McKane had apparently gotten married on Monday morning, hours before his arrest.

Number of police officers killed by suspects declined last year — and is already up this year

Officials had released video footage they said showed McKane entering the department’s headquarters in downtown San Antonio.

In one video, a man is seen leaning over and speaking to an intercom outside the building moments before the automatic doors swing open and he walks inside. The same man apparently walks back out of the building just 26 seconds later. Another video clip shows the man walking inside the lobby.

McManus said there were no uniformed police personnel in the lobby at the time. He declined to say what this man said at the intercom that prompted the doors to be opened for him to enter the building.

Marconi, 50, had been with the San Antonio police for two decades. On Sunday morning, he was making a traffic stop in front of police headquarters when an attacker parked behind his police car and walked up to the window.

The attacker fired a shot into the car, hitting Marconi in the head, before reaching “in through the open window and fired a second shot,” hitting him again, McManus said during a briefing Sunday. Marconi was brought to an area hospital and was pronounced dead not long after.

In a statement released by police, Marconi’s family asked for privacy so they could “mourn the loss of a wonderful father, brother, grandfather, friend, and last but not least, a peace officer.”

Number of law enforcement officers fatally shot this year up significantly after ambush attacks

Hours after Marconi was killed, an officer was sitting in a patrol car in St. Louis when someone pulled up and opened fire. That attacker was later fatally shot by police when he fired at officers searching for him, authorities said. Another officer was shot near Kansas City, Mo., after a struggle following a traffic stop, police said.

Also Sunday evening, an officer in Sanibel, a small city in southwest Florida, was in his car after a traffic stop when someone drove by and opened fire. The officer was treated and released from a hospital, while the suspect was arrested after a shootout with police.

A police officer was shot and injured through his patrol car window in St. Louis on Nov. 20. The suspect fled the scene, but was later shot and killed. (Video: Twitter/St. Louis Police via Storyful)

These shootings come on the heels of a deadly attack earlier this month in Iowa, where police said that a man ambushed two police officers, killing both of them, as they sat in their police cars.

There have also been a series of other shootings this month. An Alaska officer was ambushed and shot multiple times, while in California a deputy sheriff responding to a call about a suspicious van was fatally shot. A New York Police Department officer was killed and another wounded while responding to a reported home invasion.

On Friday, just two days before the shootings in Texas, Missouri and Florida, Patrick Carothers, a deputy commander with the U.S. Marshals Service, was fatally shot in Georgia trying to arrest a wanted man.

“Over the last several days, the nation has witnessed a disturbing spate of violence against law enforcement officer across the country,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement Monday. Pointing to the deaths in Georgia and Texas, as well as the other shootings, Lynch added: “These reprehensible acts cannot be tolerated and they again remind us of the significant hazards that public safety officers confront each and every day on our behalf.”

The San Antonio attack occurred just 270 miles away from where five Dallas police officers were killed during a protest in July against police shootings in other cities. Ten days after the bloodshed in Dallas — the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — another lone attacker gunned down three officers in Baton Rouge.

“In the wake of the tragic ambush that occurred in San Antonio along with the other three police shootings that happened across the nation yesterday, I have reminded our officers to take extreme caution as they perform their duties and to always be aware of their surroundings and cover each other,” David Pughes, the interim Dallas police chief, said in a statement Monday. He also encouraged officers “to work with a partner if they choose.”

Dallas police chief says ‘we’re asking cops to do too much in this country’

Through Monday, there have been 60 officers fatally shot this year, up from 36 at the same point last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that tracks line-of-duty deaths. There have been 126 officers killed this year, up from 109 last year, according to the fund’s data.

The number of officers fatally shot by suspects has declined in recent decades, falling from an average of 127 officers shot and killed during the 1970s to about 53 officers each year during the last decade.

But during an era of protests nationwide against how police use force, current and former members of law enforcement have described feeling under siege, and the high-profile ambush attacks this year have ratcheted up fears among those who serve. Some officers have said they keep their guns with them at times they otherwise would not, while others described being more wary when in public. FBI Director James Comey, speaking to a gathering of police chiefs last month, said officers were serving during “a uniquely difficult time in American law enforcement.”

Lynch, in her statement Monday, noted that 2016 “has been an especially dangerous year for police officers, with a significant increase in the number of officers killed in the line of duty since Jan. 1.” She said that the Justice Department would continue to aid local and state law enforcement officials “in any way that we can to reduce the frequency and deadliness of these tragic incidents.”

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said that the shootings illustrated a need for stronger background checks to “to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them” as a way to keep officers safe.

In San Antonio, McManus ordered officers to double up while on patrol until they catch the suspect in Marconi’s death. He said that as the sprawling manhunt for Marconi’s killer approached the 24-hour mark, police had questioned a number of people and at one point took into custody, and then released, a person of interest.

McManus had said that investigators were casting a very wide net in their hunt for a suspect in the killing.

“We have pulled out all the stops,” McManus said before authorities arrested McKane, adding that the manhunt “will not stop until this person is in custody.”

Katie Mettler contributed to this report, which was first published Monday and has been updated multiple times with new information. It has also been updated to show that the suspect’s last name is spelled McKane, not McCain, as it was initially posted here. 

Further reading:

A weary fear has been building among those who protect and serve

Iowa police take suspect in ‘ambush-style’ killings of two officers into custody

Two New York police officers shot, one fatally, in the Bronx

Calif. deputy sheriff fatally shot in point blank ‘execution.’ Suspect in custody after manhunt.

Alaska officer ‘ambushed’ and shot multiple times, police say