Intense hunt for suspects after Baltimore cop killed on duty
PERRY HALL, Md. (CBSNews) -- Police backed by aircraft and trained dogs scoured a greater Baltimore suburb through the night, seeking suspects believed armed and dangerous after the death of a female officer killed as she investigated a report of a suspicious vehicle. Baltimore County Police Cpl. Shawn Vinson said Monday evening that the enormous manhunt would continue unabated in the suburban community of Perry Hall, Maryland, where witnesses reported hearing a pop and then seeing the officer being run over by a Jeep on Monday afternoon.
"The dark will not hamper our investigation," Vinson vowed at a news briefing Monday evening.
The officer, who wasn't immediately identified, was bleeding badly from significant injuries and was pronounced dead after being rushed to a hospital. Vinson said investigators had recovered the suspects' abandoned Jeep, but police declined to confirm whether it was used to injure the officer.
Relatives of the officer, who would have been on the force four years by July, have been notified. CBS station WJZ reported that the officer was injured just after 2 p.m. on Monday and was taken to Medstar Franklin Square hospital. She was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m.
The female officer is the 11th to die in the line of duty in Baltimore County, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which showed a tally of 10 prior to Monday's incident.
School officials tweeted that all of the county's public schools would open on time Tuesday. They said additional police would be on hand at Perry Hall area schools, and additional student support services would also be available there.
Investigators urged residents in a sizable swath of Perry Hall to stay hunkered down inside their homes and lock all doors and windows as officers searched the community fringed with woodlands on Monday. Three elementary schools were kept on alert status for hours, with students and teachers told to stay in their school buildings as police continued the search, but by Monday evening, parents were allowed to come to the schools to pick up their youngsters.
Tony Kurek told The Associated Press his adult son was outside in the family's yard Monday afternoon in the northeast Baltimore County community when the son saw the officer with her gun drawn, confronting the occupants of a Jeep.
"The next thing he heard was a pop, and he saw the Jeep take off and run right over her," said Kurek. The car left skid marks behind, he said, leaving the officer down and bleeding.
Logan Kurek, who is a volunteer firefighter, said he heard his younger brother "frantically screaming" and ran outside to perform CPR.
Vinson said the officer went to investigate a call about a suspicious vehicle when she encountered at least one suspect and was "critically injured." He added that the confrontation may have stemmed from a burglary in progress, noting one home on the block had damage to a patio door.
"What exactly happened, we are not sure yet until an autopsy is performed," Vinson said at a news conference Monday. He said he had no information about whether she had fired her own weapon.
He added that a homicide investigation has been opened. Officers were searching for suspects "who we believe are armed and dangerous," Police Chief Terrence Sheridan said.
Events began unfolding Monday afternoon in the leafy neighborhood of single-family homes. It was then that Kurek's neighbor, Dahle Amendt, said he had just settled into his recliner for a rest when he heard a woman's voice outside his house.
"I heard, 'Get out of the car!' 'Get out of the car!' Get out of the car!' at least three times, and then a pop," Amendt said.
Amendt said his wife also ran outside and tried to revive the officer.
"This is a shock. It's a quiet community. It's just so sad," Amendt said.
At a gas station located at a cordoned-off intersection, some residents gathered to watch three helicopters of TV news crews buzzing overhead, an unmarked car with law enforcers, including one officer cradling a rifle in the back seat, drove past and was waved through by police manning the intersection.
Heavily armed officers with a trained canine also could be seen in helicopter news footage as they scrambled across neatly manicured backyards. A pair of officers elsewhere, with guns drawn, entered a home's front door during the search.
"It's pretty scary," said Sukvir Singh, an employee of the gas station.