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Officer shot while in uniform was targeted in latest attempted murder of police

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July 14–A St. Louis police officer was shot and wounded in an ambush while sitting in his own car working a second job in the Central West End early Tuesday, police said.

A bulletproof vest saved the officer’s life, and the search was under way for several men authorities believe were involved, said Police Chief Sam Dotson.

The officer’s injuries are not life-threatening, police said. The officer, a 39-year-old sergeant who has been with the department for 16 years, suffered injuries to his torso or side.

“They targeted, they ambushed, they tried to assassinate a police officer,” said Police Chief Sam Dotson.

The wounded officer was in full uniform and was seated in his own personal vehicle working a secondary security job when he was shot near Maryland and Euclid avenues about 4:50 a.m. The officer said he saw two men walking in the area, but he did not speak to them or confront them, Dotson said.

A short time later, they were joined by a third man walking in the area.

“The officer doesn’t get out of his car. He has no interaction with them or conversation with them,” Dotson said.

Then, a silver or grey car pulled up directly in front of the officer’s car. A man in the front passenger seat got out with a black bandanna covering his face. He immediately started shooting at the officer, Dotson said.

Several bullets struck the car and at least one bullet struck the officer in his upper torso. His vest stopped the bullet.

The officer, still sitting in his car, returned fire. He told investigators he thinks he struck at least one suspect with his gunfire, Dotson said.

The car sped away with three men inside. The officer followed a man who ran away on foot, but he lost track of him near a parking garage on York Avenue.

The gunman was described as a black man between 18 and 22 years old, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8, thin build with a medium complexion. He wore a black bandanna when he started shooting but the bandanna fell off. The officer got a look at his face and said the gunman had some facial hair.

The three alleged accomplices fled in a silver or grey newer-model Ford Taurus or Ford Focus, Dotson said.

The Central West End is saturated with surveillance cameras and police were reviewing those to learn more about the suspects.

One block of Maryland was cordoned off as police searched for the shooter. At least one of the suspects may have stopped at the Coffee Cartel before the shooting. The coffee shop is open 24 hours.

The officer was taken to nearby Barnes Jewish Hospital, and officers on bike patrol gathered nearby. Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol was among the law enforcement officers gathered at the hospital.

After the shooting Tuesday morning, the neighborhood quickly resumed much of its normal activity.

People walked their dogs, jogged or pecked at their laptop keyboards as they sat at sidewalk cafes.

The shooting happened near gated streets and within a block of the upscale Chase Park Plaza.

Lyda Krewson, a city alderwoman, sipped her Starbucks within view of police tape.

“Fortunately he was not killed,” she said of the sergeant. “It is the best neighborhood, but it can happen anywhere, we’ve seen that.”

A lone angry protester stood with his back to the yellow police tape and held a homemade sign saying, “How Does It Feel?”

Dhoruba Shakur, 25, of St. Louis, said his question was posed to police who are shooting black men.

“How does it feel to be met with same aggression you inflict on certain communities daily?” he told a reporter.

The joggers ignored him as they ran past.

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(c)2015 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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