A police officer was ambushed on Thursday in Arizona, triggering a Blue Alert, officials said.
Arizona Department of Public Safety detectives were conducting a criminal investigation in Phoenix just before 9 a.m. One detective, dressed in attire that clearly identified him as a police officer, was sitting in his unmarked police vehicle when a silver Infinity passenger car approached him.
The driver of the vehicle stopped it near the front of the detective’s car and honked the horn. At the same time, the passenger in the front seat stepped outside and fired an AK-47 pistol as the detective exited his vehicle and returned fire.
“He was ambushed,” Department of Public Safety Director Heston Silbert told reporters at a press conference.
“Our trooper was clearly visible in his vest that said ‘police.’ There was no question it was an ambush and he was identifiable as a police officer.”
If the detective did not have the wherewithal to quickly get out of his car and return fire, he “undoubtedly” would have been shot or killed, Silbert said.
Another detective who was nearby also engaged the shooter.
No one was injured in the firefight, which took place at 37th Avenue and Portland Street.
The driver of the Infinity took off, leaving the shooting suspect behind. The suspect, 17-year-old Luis German Espinoza Acuna, was arrested.
Law enforcement is seeking the driver of the vehicle, described as a silver Infinity model G-37 sedan from sometime between 2008 and 2013. The vehicle has a temporary paper license plate and appears to have chipped or missing paint just below the plate. It is also believed to have custom wheels.
Phoenix residents were sent a Blue Alert, part of a notification system that provides immediate information following a violent attack upon a law enforcement officer.
The alert lacked details about the vehicle and suspects, which officials described as a glitch.
The ambush came just two days after a federal court security officer was shot outside a U.S. courthouse in Phoenix. The suspect in that shooting was arrested.
Referencing that shooting, Silbert told reporters: “I’m disgusted by the actions of people toward law enforcement that I’ve seen take place in this country over the past several months.”
U.S. Marshal David Gonzalez added: “There’s this unspeakable theme that’s going on in our country right now and involving police officers, not just the shooting and killing of them, but targeting by street gangs, officers that are that are threatened with intimidation through social media, receiving threats when involved in shootings, regardless of the circumstances, and, in my career … never seen anything like this.”
Gonzalez called on community leaders and elected officials “to stand up and say, we’re not going to take this anymore.”