A police officer is in critical condition after being shot while patrolling near a Detroit university campus on Tuesday evening, adding to the mounting list of officers attacked while on duty this year.
Wayne State University officer Collin Rose was investigating possible thefts of navigation systems from vehicles and about to speak to someone on a bike when the incident occurred, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said. Backup officers who arrived found Officer Rose injured on the ground.
“The officer was trying to get [the suspect's] hands behind his back,” Betty Evans, an eyewitness told the Detroit Free Press. “We heard a shot and the officer went down, and we heard two more shots.”
The latest incident occurs after a year that saw many ambush-style attacks against police officers, with the most tragic taking place in July when 12 officers were shot by a gunman in Dallas, becoming the deadliest incident for police officers since the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 58 police officers have died of non-accidental gun fire this year, a 71 percent increase in cases from last year.
Rose, who works with the canine unit, is a five-year veteran of the department who often engages with students on campus by giving canine demonstrations and reaches out to families of slain officers across the country, Wayne State University Police Chief Anthony Holt said, as reported by The Washington Post. He is the first officer to be critically shot in the department.
“He is ingrained in the community,” Chief Holt said. “He wants the community to be safe and he works at it. This is a real caring officer.”
According to the Detroit police, a “person of interest” was in custody, although it hasn’t been established that he is the shooter. After the shooting, several dozen armed officers arrested a man after scouring a residential area within two blocks of the campus.
Rose underwent surgery on Tuesday night. In a press conference Wednesday morning, Holt said, “things are very grave” for Rose. The suspect arrested had previous charges of felony-assault counts in 2009 and 2011, resulting in jail sentences in both cases, according to the Detroit Free Press.
While police are still trying to determine if the shooting was a targeted ambush, it’s “something that’s crossed our minds,” Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said. Just on Sunday, a San Antonio detective and St. Louis officer were shot; multiple police officers were also shot at traffic stops in Florida, and Missouri on the same night. Earlier this month, two police officers in Iowa were fatally shot while sitting in their patrol cars.
The recent spike in attacks on police has sparked concern, but as The Christian Science Monitor staff writer Max Lewontin previously reported, police deaths have actually declined dramatically since the 1970s.
But with police brutality being a topic in the media spotlight and igniting protests nationwide this past year, tensions have been high on all sides.
“This needs to stop,” Chief Craig said. “We need to speak out in a very loud and bold voice and say, ‘this will not be tolerated.’ We cannot allow anti-police rhetoric to fuel the thoughts in some of these individuals’ minds.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.