Officer Jacai Colson (photo: Prince George's County Police Department)
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. - Prince George's County Police Officer First Class Jacai Colson, a four-year veteran of the force, was shot and killed Sunday in an ambush-style attack on the District 3 station, authorities confirmed. They describe the attack, which happened around 4:30 p.m. at the District 3 police station, which is attached to the department's headquarters, in Palmer Park, Md.
“One of your defenders lost his life in defense of this community today," Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said in a news conference held outside Prince George's Hospital Center, where Officer Colson was pronounced dead. "This was an unprovoked attack."
According to police, Colson was shot by a suspect who essentially ambushed officers, walking up outside the building and opening fire with no warning. Chief Stawinski said the other officers who were there bravely fired back on the suspect, and he was injured.
Stawinski told reporters Colson’s fellow officers did not wait for an ambulance to get to him, instead putting him into a cruiser and rushing him to Prince George’s Hospital Center after the attack.
The shooting suspect was taken to the same facility where the officer was taken. According to Stawinski, he's expected to survive.
Police say a second suspect ran from the scene when the first suspect began firing on officers. He was taken into custody at a shopping center about a mile away from the police station where the shooting took place. The second suspect was not injured.
The hours that followed the shooting were chaotic, with many roads in Landover being shut down while police search for the second suspect. Residents in the area were asked to shelter in place while the search was underway, but were later given the all-clear after the second suspect was located.
Officer Colson, 28, would have celebrated his 29th birthday this week. He was as assigned to the Narcotics Enforcement Division, and was working undercover when he was shot. During Sunday evening's news conference, Fraternal Order of Police president John Teletchea said Colson had a smile that could light up a room. He called Jacai was a "cop's cop," as well as a personal friend who would be missed.
As word of Colson’s shooting spread, dozens of his fellow officers showed up at the hospital to show their support. It was an extremely emotional scene, and at one point, at one point, many of the officers joined hands and formed a prayer circle outside the building to pray for Officer Colson.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered flags throughout the state to be flown at half staff in honor of Officer Colson.
"I am shocked and saddened by the news this evening of the death of Prince George's County police officer Jacai Colson in the line of duty," Hogan said in a statement. "Our administration is committed to assisting Prince George's County officials during this time, and the Maryland State Police are working closely with local law enforcement to provide support as needed."
"The First Lady and I send our sincere prayers to the family and loved ones of Officer Colson, who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his fellow citizens and community. It is my hope that his proud legacy of commitment and passion for law enforcement and serving others will provide some comfort in the difficult days that lie ahead."
Before authorities held their news conference, a woman showed up at the hospital saying she was the aunt of the two men involved in the shooting. FOX 5’s Alexandra Limon reports she was looking for them, and didn’t have any information about what had happened.
The tragedy in Prince George’s County comes just more than two weeks after three Prince William County, Va. officers were shot while responding to a domestic violence call in Woodbridge. Rookie Officer Ashley Guindon, who was also 28, was killed, and so was Crystal Hamilton, the wife of the suspect, who made the call to 911 for help.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Authorities asked media and citizens to be patient as they continue to learn more about the shooters' motives, and as they mourn with Colson's family and fellow officers.
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