A police officer from Mobile, Alabama, was shot and killed on Tuesday night, Feb. 20, in Toulminville, as he approached a man suspected of shooting his ex-wife to death.
Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste said Officer Justin Billa was shot as he approached 72-year-old Robert Hollie, suspected of killing his former spouse, Fonda Poellnitz, about an hour earlier.
Police surrounded the residence and exchanged fire with Hollie, before entering the premises about three hours later to find the man dead. It is unclear whether Hollie died of a self-inflicted wound or from police gunfire.
According to Fox10, citing Poellnitz’s daughter, Hollie beat and shot his ex-wife to death after the two attended choir practice. He then reportedly stole her vehicle and drove to the location where he Billa was ultimately shot.
According to Fox10, Billa joined the Mobile Police Department in January 2016 and was named Officer of the Month in June of that year.
He was interviewed by Fox10 in July 2016.
“We need to go back to helping people instead of just taking them to jail and creating bigger problems,” Billa said in the interview. “That’s my ideal of good policing and I feel like that’s what the chief is working towards.”
The slain officer is survived by a wife and a 1-year-old son, shown in this Blue Lives Matter tweet.
— Blue Lives Matter (@bluelivesmtr) February 21, 2018
Various police departments have expressed their condolences.
CONDOLENCES to Mobile Police Department and family of Officer Justin Billa who was shot and killed while assisting in the apprehension of a homicide suspect yesterday. pic.twitter.com/olYMVTN50B
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) February 21, 2018
In memoriam messages have also been spotted across the community.
— Jessica Taloney (@WKRG_Jessica) February 21, 2018