By Brett Gillin
Every police officer in the United States will tell you that being “on guard” at all times is vital in their line of work. Unfortunately, an increasing trend in attacks on police officers may mean that being aware of your surroundings may not be enough to keep our officers safe. What’s particularly alarming is the sudden and exponential increase in so called “Ambush Attacks” on our police officers.
In the last week alone, at least four police officers have been the victims of these ambush attacks. The first occurred in Lake Wales Florida, where two police officers were shot when responding to a 911 call. According to the Tampa Tribune, 59 year-old John Goepferich is suspected of calling 911 in order to lure police officers into his house. When Officers John Schwarze and Benjamin Metz arrived at the scene, the suspect allegedly started a 15 minute gun battle which landed all three in the hospital. Fortunately, neither of the officers sustained any life-threatening injuries. The suspect also somehow survived the ordeal and will soon face his day in court.
Then, on Tuesday in Los Angeles, three masked men allegedly opened fire on police officers in south Los Angeles. According to this article on CBS Los Angeles, officers were on patrol when three men, wearing black ski masks, ran up to the officers, unprovoked, and opened fire. Thankfully, no officers were injured in the attack, and the three suspects are now in custody.
Unfortunately, the most recent example does not have a good ending. In Fulton County Georgia on Wednesday, Detective Terence Avery Green, a veteran officer with nearly 22 years of service, was shot and killed when he was ambushed while responding to a call. According to this article in USA Today, Fulton County Assistant Police Chief Gary Stiles says the officers “were trying to do their job, they were trying to protect this neighborhood from someone who was shooting. And they had no other option but to do their job. And the way it appears to me, they were ambushed without warning.” The suspect in this shooting was wounded during the melee and is in custody while being treated in a local hospital.
Going back a couple months, this beyond-frightening video from the Seattle Police Department, via Q13 Fox, shows an ambush happening live. After police responded to the scene of a domestic disturbance for the second time that evening and were interviewing the suspect, a car pulled up behind the officers and stopped. Moments later, gunfire erupted, forcing the officers to take cover and return fire.
Two days before the incident in Seattle, two Los Angeles Police officers were patrolling in their squad car when an unknown assailant opened fire on their car, according to this article in the Los Angeles Times. Tyler Izen, the president of the Los Angeles Police Union told reporters “Last night, there was an ambush and attempted murder of two LAPD officers in 77th area by what appears to be suspects who simply wanted to kill police officers.”
In June, a Las Vegas couple ambushed two police officers while they were eating lunch. The couple shot and killed the officers apparently because they saw law enforcement as oppressors, according to this article on CNN. In July, Detective Melvin Santiago was ambushed and killed outside of a convenience store in New Jersey according to this article in NJ.com. Then, in September, two Pennsylvania State troopers were ambushed outside of the police barracks in Blooming Grove by Eric Frein, who is now in custody and has been denied bail according to Reuters.
Of course the most high profile case recently occurred when NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed by an avowed cop-hating man. They were among an alarming 15 police officers who were killed in ambush-style attacks in 2014, according to a report released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That same report spells out that firearm-related fatalities were the leading cause of death among officers in 2014, with a total of 50 deaths, an unfortunate 56 percent increase from the previous year.
The scary truth is, if the events of just over two months in 2015 are any indication, ambush-style attacks may continue to rise. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters with CNN “These troubling statistics underscore the very real dangers that America’s brave law enforcement officer face every time they put on their uniforms. Each loss is both tragic and unacceptable – a beloved father, mother, son or daughter who never came home to their loved ones.”
When trying to examine what is causing the increase in ambush-style attacks, The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund has a theory that seems to ring true. Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd issued a statement reading “With the increasing number of ambush-style attacks against our officers, I am deeply concerned that a growing anti-government sentiment in America is influencing weak-minded individuals to launch violent assaults against the men and women working to enforce our laws and keep our nation safe. Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness.”
While the Justice Department and other law enforcement agencies look into ways to halt these ambush-style killings, we can only hope and pray that each one of our brave men and women in law enforcement can avoid tragedies like these.
Stay safe out there.