A Wayne State University police officer was in critical condition Tuesday night after being shot in the head while patrolling an area near the Detroit campus, police said.
Following an hours-long manhunt, police arrested a person of interest and took him into custody, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told reporters in a news conference.
The officer, 29-year-old Collin Rose, was investigating complaints of thefts from vehicles when he stopped a man on a bicycle, Craig said. Responding to the scene as backup, a second officer found Rose on the ground, suffering from at least one serious gunshot wound, the Detroit Free Press reported. The officer was not shot with his own gun, and police were still searching for the weapon used, the Associated Press reported.
Rose was transported to the hospital, where he was recovering from surgery Tuesday night, M. Roy Wilson, Wayne State University president said, according to the Associated Press. The officer was with family members, and was still not “totally out of the woods,” Wilson said.
During the news conference outside the hospital, Craig said the mood inside was “certainly somber….. He’s in grave condition,” he said.
Authorities had not yet determined a motive for the shooting, “whether it was an ambush or something different,” Wilson said, according to the AP.
According to witnesses, the suspect frequents the area where the incident took place, in the Woodbridge area of Detroit, Craig said. When Rose stopped him, at about 6:45 p.m., he was riding a blue mountain bike, which was later found at the scene of the shooting, several blocks southwest of the Wayne State campus.
The manager of an apartment complex nearby told the Detroit Free Press she witnessed the shooting. The woman, Betty Evans, said she argued with a man on a bicycle, and when he wouldn’t leave the area, she called 911. She saw an officer arrive to confront the man.
“The officer was trying to get his hands behind his back,” Evans said. “We heard a shot and the officer went down, and we heard two more shots.”
Police began what they described as a massive manhunt, which included air searches with the help of state police, Detroit police and a number of other agencies, Craig said.
In statements on social media and on the university website, police told the public they were searching for an African-American man in his 40s with a full beard, wearing a white T-shirt with white and black lettering, a skull cap and a brown jacket.
Wayne State, located in the heart of Detroit, has more than 27,000 students, employs more than 50 officers and requires all officers to have a bachelor’s degree, according to the university website. Rose was the first officer from the department to be critically shot, Wayne State University Police Chief Anthony Holt said.
Rose, a canine officer, is a five-year veteran of the Wayne State University police department and was described by Holt as an “excellent”, “proactive” canine officer — one of the best in Detroit, he said.
Rose frequently visits schools to talk to students, gives demonstrations with his canine, and reaches out to the families of slain officers, attending funerals of police officers across the country, Holt said.
According to the university’s website, Rose served as the handler and partner of a canine named in honor of a slain Detroit police officer, Patrick Hill, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in October 2013. A photo on the website shows Rose posing with the dog, named Wolverine in memory of Hill’s affectionate nickname.
“He is ingrained in the community,” Holt said. “He wants the community to be safe and he works at it. This is a real caring officer.”
tanding outside the hospital, Wilson, the university president, said in a news conference, “this is one of the worst calls that a president of a university can get.”
It was not the first time the Detroit Police Chief has stood outside the hospital in recent months to address the shooting of a police officer. On Sept. 17, Detroit Police Sgt. Kenneth Steil died after being fatally shot by a suspect wielding a sawed-off shotgun. Another officer, Myron Jarrett, 40, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run crash Oct. 28 while helping a traffic accident investigation.
Thursday’s shooting also occurred just days after three police officers in three different states were shot in unprovoked attacks within a 12-hour period. Those shootings, which took place Sunday in San Antonio, St. Louis and Sanibel, were described as “targeted” and “ambush”-style by officials.
In the San Antonio case, the assailant fatally shot the officer twice in the head before fleeing in a black car. Otis Tyrone McKane was apprehended Tuesday and charged with capital murder.
It was the 58th death of an officer by gunfire this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Those sites have calculated that that number is between a 61 and 71 percent increase from gunfire-related deaths in 2015, Katie Mettler reported in The Washington Post.
Since July, when five Dallas police officers were killed in an ambush-style shooting, at least a dozen officers have been shot in what officials have called unprovoked attacks.
“This needs to stop,” 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.”
“This must end,” he added. “It must end now.”