A police officer in Kansas City, Kan., was fatally shot on Tuesday, authorities said, becoming the latest officer killed during a remarkably deadly period for law enforcement.
Police were responding to reports of a drive-by shooting at about 2 p.m., said Terry Zeigler, the city’s police chief, at a news conference Tuesday. Officers chased a car believed to be involved and when Capt. Robert Melton arrived, suspects shot and killed him, Zeigler said.
The officer was pronounced dead at 2:55 p.m. local time, according to James Howard, a trauma surgeon at the University of Kansas Hospital.
“There’s a lot of pain and brokenness in our community and in our nation right now, and we just want to ask everyone to be prayerful and thoughtful right now,” said Mayor Mark Holland, of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City.
Police offered few immediate details about the shooting, which came at a moment of intense anxiety for law enforcement nationwide after eight officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were killed in recent shooting attacks.
“We just want to encourage everyone not to jump to conclusions about what has happened today,” Holland said. “We need to do a thorough investigation, and we need to get the facts before we make assumptions about what may or may not have happened. Right now, we just need to be in prayer for the family, and for the police department, not only in this department but everywhere in our country, and prayer for our communities. Our communities are broken right now.”
He continued: “My encouragement is we not go down a path of fear and conclusions and hatred, but we go down a path of thoughtful, prayerful reflection about what we can all do to make our community safer.”
Authorities were still investigating, and another press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday morning, according to Zeigler.
The officer’s death in Kansas City pushes the total number of law enforcement officers fatally shot in the line of duty to 31 so far this year — up from about 16 at this point last year, and ahead of the average midyear total, which is about 25, according to FBI data.
The numbers have spiked considerably this year just in recent days, with more than a third of these deaths coming in a single 12-day span.