CHEVERLY, Md. (AP) — 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.
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.
Police had originally advised residents near the police station in Landover to stay inside, and others to avoid the area, because of an “active shooter” situation. They then lifted the “shelter in place” advice in a message on Twitter soon after the second suspect was apprehended.
The shooting occurred at about 4:30 p.m. at a community center next to the Landover station in the suburb of Prince George’s County, about 10 miles northeast of downtown Washington, D.C.
Alan Doubleday, assistant chief of the Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Services Department, said a person who was shot was taken by ambulance to Prince George’s Hospital Center. That person appeared to be in stable condition, Doubleday said.
He said the officer was taken to the same hospital by police.
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.
Details about what happened were not immediately released, and the suspects weren’t immediately identified.
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 woman couldn’t immediately be reached by The Associated Press.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have begun 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, told AP that 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.
The Prince George’s County Police Department’s District III station is next door to county police headquarters. Nearby is the Palmer Park Community Center, although a county website listing for the center says it is closed on Sundays.