[UPDATE: Slain Officer identified as Capt. Robert Melton]
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., Terry Zeigler, the city’s police chief, said at a news conference Tuesday. Officers chased a car believed to be involved and when Capt. Robert Melton arrived, suspects in the car shot and killed him, Zeigler said.
The officer was pronounced dead at 2:55 p.m. local time, according to a trauma surgeon at the University of Kansas Hospital.
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.
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.
On Sunday, three officers in Baton Rouge were fatally shot by a gunman, while three others were injured. The week before, two bailiffs — both deputized by the sheriff there — were killed in a Michigan courthouse, a shooting that came just days after a gunman fatally shot five police officers in Dallas.
Zeigler had posted on Twitter that an officer was shot and remained in “unknown condition” shortly after 2 p.m. local time.
The shooting occurred around a residential intersection about two and a half miles from the police department’s headquarters, Zeigler said.
A police detective in this Kansas City — which is much smaller than neighboring Kansas City, Missouri — was fatally shot in May by a man police said was carjacking vehicles and had shot a driver.
This latest Kansas City shooting comes just two days after a gunman in Baton Rouge fatally shot three officers there and wounded three others in an attack that police described as a “targeted” assassination of law enforcement officers. (That gunman was from the Kansas City in Missouri, authorities said.)
Just 10 days earlier, a gunman in Dallas who killed five police officers had said he was angered by fatal police actions and wanted to kill officers, authorities said. The violence left many on edge nationwide, as police officers in many cities were ordered to patrol in pairs as a safety measure.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Mark Berman