DETROIT (AP) – A Wayne State University police officer who was shot in the head Tuesday evening while on patrol near campus has been released from surgery, and authorities said they are interrogating a man about the attack.
The officer was identified as 29-year-old Colin Rose, a five-year veteran of the department who works in the canine unit. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Rose was on duty when he radioed to say he was investigating possible thefts of navigation systems from cars and SUVs, and was about to speak to someone apparently on a bike.
“It was boom, boom, boom,” Jacob Bolton, 20, who lives nearby, said in an interview later with The Associated Press. “I heard some gunshots and I heard somebody hollering. But at first I thought I was dreaming.”
Officers who arrived on the scene found the officer injured on the ground, Craig said.
Deputy Detroit police chief Steve Dolunt said a man considered “a person of interest” was in custody but that it’s unknown whether he was the shooter. Dolunt said the officer was not shot with his own gun and that police were still looking for the weapon used.
The university’s president, M. Roy Wilson, said Rose was recovering from surgery Tuesday night and that family members were with him but that he still had a tough road ahead of him.
“We just spoke to the surgeons and they just said he still was not totally out of the woods,” Wilson said.
Shortly after the shooting, which occurred around 6:30 p.m., several dozen armed officers were seen in the residential area of Woodbridge within two blocks of the campus in what law enforcement described as a massive manhunt.
Police were searching for an African-American man in his 40s with a full beard, a university statement posted on the school’s website said Tuesday night. It added he was wearing a white T-shirt with white and black lettering, a skull cap and a brown jacket.
Using that description and talking to residents near the scene, police arrested the person of interest without incident about three blocks from where the shooting happened, Dolunt said.
Wilson said they still don’t know what the motive was for the shooting, “whether it was an ambush or something different.”
He cited four recent incidents around the country in which law enforcement officers were shot, adding, “That’s something that’s crossed our minds.”
Wayne State has more than 27,000 students and is located in the heart of Detroit. Wilson said the school employs around 65 officers, some of whom help patrol areas around the campus.
The shootings of police officers in Texas and Missouri on Sunday were the latest in what law enforcement officials say is an alarming spike in ambush-style attacks. A San Antonio detective was fatally shot, and a St. Louis officer was shot twice in the face but survived.
Police officers were also shot and injured during traffic stops in Sanibel, Florida, and Gladstone, Missouri, on Sunday night, but authorities have not suggested those were targeted attacks.
One-third of police officers shot to death on the job this year were purposely targeted by their assailant, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.