Maryland Police: Officer Killed by Friendly Fire in Ambush

March 14, 2016 Updated: March 14, 2016
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CHEVERLY, Md. (AP) — An undercover police officer was killed by his own colleagues’ fire as he responded to the ambush of his police station by a gunman with a death wish, a police chief said Monday.

While officer Jacai Colson lay mortally wounded Sunday, the gunman’s two brothers coldly recorded the firefight, Prince George’s County police chief Hank Stawinski said, angrily tapping a podium as he provided the first details of the gun battle.

The gunman had been spraying bullets, hitting cars and even an ambulance, to draw officers outside the station. Colson also responded, jumping out of an unmarked car and wearing civilian clothes without body armor, the chief said.

In the confusion, despite their restraint, one of the other officers’ bullets hit Colson, the chief said.

 

Chief Hank Stawinski and FOP 89 Lodge President John “Zeek” Teletchea conducting a live press conference. Starting now.

Posted by Prince George’s County Police Department on Monday, March 14, 2016

Colson demonstrated “extreme heroism” because he “drew fire to himself and in doing so was mortally wounded,” the chief said.

Colson was declared dead later in a hospital. The gunman, identified as Michael Ford, was expected to survive. His brothers, Malik and Elijah Ford, also were taken into custody, and will face dozens of charges between them, the chief said.

Stawinski said federal agents have determined that there was no larger plot behind the ambush.

Epoch Times Photo
Police stand outside a Popeyes restaurant during an investigation into the murder of Jacai Colson, a four-year veteran of the Prince George’s County police force, who was shot outside the District III police station, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Hyattsville, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“This appears to be the act of the Ford brothers, for their own motives. We have reason to suspect that the Ford brothers did not expect (Michael Ford) to survive his encounter with police,” the chief said.

The chief also said there were no outstanding warrants against Ford. That information conflicts with a sheriff’s report from Greenville, South Carolina, which said Ford, 22, was being sought for allegedly assaulting his wife there the day before.

He said Colson’s fellow officers were going about their business on the quiet, rainy Sunday when the gunman opened fire on the first officer he saw outside the station around 4:30 p.m. in Landover, a suburb northeast of downtown Washington, D.C., the chief said.

A police officer walks outside a Popeyes restaurant during an investigation into the shooting of a Prince George's County police officer on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Hyattsville, Md. Police and the public were seeking answers Monday after a gunman opened fire outside a police station in a Maryland suburb of the nation's capital, killing an officer in what the police chief called an "unprovoked attack." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
A police officer walks outside a Popeyes restaurant during an investigation into the shooting of a Prince George’s County police officer on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Hyattsville, Md. Police and the public were seeking answers Monday after a gunman opened fire outside a police station in a Maryland suburb of the nation’s capital, killing an officer in what the police chief called an “unprovoked attack.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A gun battle followed, with several officers shooting at the suspect, Stawinski said.

“Those officers did not shrink. They bravely advanced and engaged this individual,” the chief said.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks called it “cowardice” and a “horrific act of evil,” promising an aggressive investigation and prosecution. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also are aiding police, spokesmen for the two federal agencies said.

Colson, who would have turned 29 this week, was a four-year department veteran who worked as an undercover narcotics officer. His football coach at Randolph-Macon College, where Colson played for one year, said he was “a great young man who was well liked and well respected.”

Prince George's County police chief Hank Stawinski speaks about the murder of Jacai Colson, during a news conference at Prince George's County Hospital Center, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Cheverly, Md. Colson, a four-year veteran of the force was shot outside the District III police station. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Prince George’s County police chief Hank Stawinski speaks about the murder of Jacai Colson, during a news conference at Prince George’s County Hospital Center, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Cheverly, Md. Colson, a four-year veteran of the force was shot outside the District III police station. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“He was just a great human being,” coach Pedro Arruza said. “He was a very positive, positive person and an upbeat guy, a good person to be around. He had a lot of friends on campus, everybody liked him. He was just a really high-character guy.”

Sheriff’s deputy Dominick Chambers, a friend from the police academy, said they celebrated their four-year anniversary as officers on March 12, the day before Colson was killed.

“He always wanted to be a police officer,” Chambers said. “Everyone is taking it real bad, real bad. I’m talking to my classmates, checking in on them. We’re not doing well.”