Police Officer In Maryland Fatally Shot In 'Unprovoked Attack'

Sunday, March 13th 2016, 11:16 pm
By: News On 6

A police officer was fatally shot in an "unprovoked attack" near a police station in a Maryland suburb of the nation's capital, authorities said Sunday.

A second person, not a police officer, also was shot and wounded, police said. Two suspects in the officer's shooting were in custody.

Police identified the slain officer as 28-year-old Jacai Colson, a four-year veteran of the Prince George's County Police Department who was days shy of his birthday. Police posted a photo of Colson to Twitter.

The police department said on Twitter that Colson "lost his life in defense of this community today. This was an unprovoked attack." Authorities didn't immediately elaborate on the tweet.

CBS affiliate WUSA reports two suspects are in custody in connection with the shooting.

"Jacai had an infectious smile, he lit up a room," according to FOP President Zeek Teletchea, who called him a "cops cop" and personal friend, WUSA reports.

Officials say the shooting occurred at a community center next to the Landover police station in Prince George's County, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Police say two suspects launched an attack on the police station on Barlowe Road in Palmer Park as officers were "going about their business on a Sunday afternoon in their home."

"Those officers did not shrink. They bravely advanced and engaged this individual who was threatening not just the police officers and the police facility that he was opening fire upon but numerous members of the community in the area," said Chief Hank Stawinski.

One suspect was wounded during the altercation and is being treated for non-life threatening injuries at Prince George's Hospital Center. The other suspect is being interrogated by police, WUSA reports.

Police had initially posted a message on Twitter asking residents to avoid the area and to stay inside because of a possible "active shooter" situation. Police later said they don't believe there are any other suspects.

Parked police cars lined road to the hospital Sunday evening. Several officers crowded into the hospital's lobby, quietly waiting to learn details about the officer's condition from their chief.

The Washington Post reported that one woman near the site grabbed her sleeping, 14-month old baby from his play pen when she heard what she thought might be either firecrackers or gunshots. The woman told the newspaper she looked outside and saw a man dressed in black firing a handgun.

"He fired one shot, and then he started pacing back and forth, then fired another shot," said Lascelles Grant, a nurse. She added in the account that police began pouring out of the station. "Just looking outside, I'm like, 'Oh my God, look at all these police officers running out, putting their lives really in danger,'

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting local police in the investigation, spokesmen for the two federal agencies said. They said the Prince George's County Police remained the lead investigating agency.

Dave Fitz, spokesman for the FBI in Maryland, said the FBI "reached out and offered support" and sent a couple of special agents to assist. He had no further details.

Dave Cheplak, spokesman for the ATF in Maryland, was unable to say how many ATF agents were assisting. He also could not say specifically what they are doing, but said assistance typically would include following up on leads, interviewing witnesses, supporting evidence collection and tracing any recovered firearms.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a statement in regards to the shooting.

"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," the statement read. "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."

Governor Hogan has ordered flags to fly at half-staff.