A car burglary investigation near downtown Birmingham, Alabama, turned deadly early Sunday morning when a suspect opened fire on two officers, killing one of them.
The shooting occurred when an undercover officer and a uniformed sergeant encountered a pair of car burglary suspects just before 2 a.m. Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said one suspect pulled a gun and opened fire after being confronted by the officers.
The chief said the sergeant, who has been identified as Wytasha Carter, 44, was “mortally wounded” and the officer was critically injured.
Carter had been with the department since 2011 and was promoted to sergeant in February 2018.
Smith said one suspect was injured in the shooting and taken to the hospital for treatment. The second suspect was taken into custody.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating.
Carter, who is survived by his wife and children, is the first Birmingham officer killed in the line of duty in more than 14 years. On June 17, 2004, three officers were shot and killed while serving a drug warrant. It was the deadliest day in department history.
“This is one of the roughest hours of your career,” Smith said. “There’s not a chief, not an officer that ever wants to have to deal with this. This is a very difficult thing for the family, very difficult for the department.”
In a statement, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said Carter “laid down his life for the city he served.”
“This husband and father was a true public servant and will be honored by each of us,” Woodfin said. “As this investigation continues, I ask that everyone pause and reflect on how our Birmingham police officers go out every day to protect our community. We also remain in prayer for the second officer who was shot.
“Each day, Birmingham police officers risk their lives when they report for duty. This is a time of mourning for our city, but please know our police officers will be dedicated to justice and continued service for the people of Birmingham.”
In a statement, Birmingham City Councilman Hunter Williams said elected leaders “know the negative impact of gun violence on the health and safety of our communities must be met with swift and certain punishment. The Birmingham City Council fully stands behind all of the men and women of the Birmingham Police Department in their efforts to make sure justice is served.”
Jay Town, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said in a statement that the “tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers all law enforcement face while we sleep. While they keep us safe. While they do the job. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the officers, the officer still fighting for life, and the fallen officer whose end of watch came much too soon.”Off