Third suspect arrested in Maryland police ambush. Are attacks on cops rising?

Three men, all brothers, have been arrested in connection with Sunday's fatal attack on a Maryland police station. Police ambushes aren't necessarily increasing, but fatal attacks do seem to be on the rise.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski (2nd r.) leads police officials in confirming one of their officers was shot and killed, during remarks at a press conference at Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md., Sunday.

[Update 3:00 p.m.: Police have taken a third brother into custody in connection with the shooting death of Officer Jacai Colson.]

One officer died in an attack on a police station in Maryland on Sunday.

A shooter opened fire on police outside the entrance to the police station in Landover, Md., at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Officers exchanged fire, ultimately wounding the suspect. 

The ambush was unprovoked, Prince George's County police chief Hank Stawinski said in a news conference Sunday evening. "He opened fire on the first police officer he saw," he said. At the time of the news conference, Police Chief Stawinski had little information for reporters and could not explain the motivation of the shooter. "It wasn't about anything," he said.

Undercover narcotics officer Jacai Colson was pronounced dead from his injuries at a hospital. The officer had been on the force for four years and would have turned 29 this week.

Ambushes like the Sunday evening attack are not unheard of. Some 200 ambush attacks on police happen each year according to a Department of Justice study published in October 2015. 

The report showed that the rate of such ambushes had stabilized over the past decade since a decline beginning in the early 1990s. 

Surprise attacks on police officers may be happening at a steady rate, but the study also reported that the fatalities resulting from these attacks are increasing. Federal Bureau of Investigation numbers show that 115 officers died in ambushes from 2003 to 2012. According to the same numbers, 267 were injured. 

Sunday's direct attack on the police station may have been particularly bold. Most of these attacks, 82 percent, were on an officer that was alone, according to data from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 

The 2015 Department of Justice study also investigated possible correlations. That report concluded that areas high in crime and all kinds of attacks on police, not surprisingly also saw a greater risk of violent ambushes. Precincts with progressive hiring practices and standards saw fewer ambushes. Technology, such as in-car cameras, also appeared to diminish such attacks. The report suggests that the cameras might deter assaults on police and private citizens as well.

Police took two suspects into custody Sunday evening. One suspect was wounded and taken to a hospital. Stawinski said the other suspect, the first suspect's brother, was thought to have been on the scene when shooting began but fled.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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