HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama police officer was killed Friday during a drug-related shooting, authorities said, making him the sixth law enforcement officer in the state slain in the line of duty this year.
The officer died at a hospital after being shot in the heart, Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said during a news conference Friday evening. Authorities did not release the name of the slain officer, but said he was a 20-year veteran of the department.
Police said the suspect was captured after a short foot chase.
“The Huntsville Police Department has suffered a tremendous loss,” McMurray said.
McMurray said the shooting occurred during a task force operation after investigators learned of a large amount of drugs being delivered. He said the suspect “drew a gun and immediately fired on the officer.”
The officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, but the bullet still managed to strike the officer in the heart, the police chief said. He said the officer’s name would be released Saturday.
Lt. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the department, said the shooting is a stark reminder of the danger faced by police officers.
Six Alabama law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2019, according to numbers released by the Alabama attorney general’s office following last month’s fatal shooting of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams.
“I am grieved to hear of the Huntsville Police Officer killed in the line of duty and extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to his family for their unimaginable loss. It has been an exceptionally tough year for our law enforcement community, and this will be felt across our state,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.
Although the officer was not publicly named, U.S. Attorney Jay Town said the officer was known for his dedication and professionalism.
“We must now direct our prayers to his grieving family and pull together in full support of the Huntsville Police Department and law enforcement everywhere who lost another brother of the badge tonight. I am beyond grief.”