By Jacques Billeaud and Terry Tang | Related press
PHOENIX – A man who shot his ex-girlfriend at a Phoenix home early Friday ambushed the first officer at the scene, seriously wounding him, then opened fire on other officers. when they tried to rescue a baby left at the door.
The woman later died. In total, five officers were shot, four of whom were injured trying to bring the baby to safety. Police said four more officers were injured by shrapnel or bullets.
Of the five people who were directly shot, four are still hospitalized. All officers were expected to survive, and the girl was unharmed.
Mayor Kate Gallego said at a news conference near the scene: “I cannot recall an incident in the city’s history where so many officers were injured. “A baby is safe today because of our Phoenix police officers.”
The most seriously injured officer was the first to arrive, at around 2:15 a.m., after reports of a woman being shot. He’s been invited inside, Phoenix police, Sgt. Andy Williams said. “As he approached the door, the suspect ambushed him with a gun and shot him multiple times,” he said. “That officer was able to turn around and go to safety.”
Video from the scene shows another man walking outside holding a child and a sack. The man placed the bag on the ground, then placed the baby wrapped in a blanket between the bag and the front door. He raised his hand in surrender while backing out of the house.
After the man was arrested, other officers headed to the door to retrieve the girl, and the suspect fired several more shots. Police returned fire, then caused the suspect to barricade himself. Williams said eight of the officers were wounded by bullets or shrapnel during that exchange.
Police were able to get the baby to safety when a SWAT unit took over.
The suspect remained barricaded for several hours and was later found dead from gunshot wounds in the home.
They also found the suspect’s ex-girlfriend, who was shot and seriously injured. She died a few hours later, police said. Williams said the baby is believed to be the child of the woman and the suspect. She is currently in state custody.
The man who took the baby out suffered non-life threatening injuries. Williams said he was a family member and was cooperating with police.
“There’s no information that he was part of the ambush, but it’s an ongoing investigation,” Williams said.
Police identified the gunman as Morris Jones, 36, and said they were still trying to learn about the circumstances that occurred before the incident. Detectives were gathering evidence and processing the scene Friday morning.
Williams declined to say whether Morris had a criminal record or if police had been called to the home before.
“This is just one more example of the dangers officers face every day to keep us and our communities safe,” Sheriff Jeri Williams said at a news conference this morning. Soon. “If I sound uncomfortable, then I am. This is senseless. It doesn’t have to happen and it just keeps happening over and over again.”
Chris Grollnek, an active shooter expert, told The Associated Press on Friday that it is important to know how the incident was initially reported. Was it a 911 call from a woman begging for help? A neighbor reported gunfire and screaming?
Instant information will determine how first officers react when they arrive on the scene, he said.
Traditionally, a suspect has barricaded the police with time to set up a siege and call in a SWAT team, which can take 20 minutes to arrive. But if someone gets injured internally, “the human element takes over,” says Grollnek. “I’m the first one there, I’ll go in.”
Charles “Sid” Heal, a former commanding officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s SWAT unit, said department policies often leave decision-making power to responders.
Both Heal and Grollnek described shooting at officers trying to save a baby as “evil”. They say police protocols simply cannot cover such a scenario.
“Hopefully it doesn’t happen often enough that we’ll have a protocol for it,” Heal said.
He added that he couldn’t imagine a situation where officers would expose the baby because it was too dangerous for them to rescue the child.
“The ethical factors go beyond the physical risk,” he said.
The middle-class neighborhood in southwest Phoenix where the shooting took place has newly built plaster homes that are tightly packed together and are located next to large shipping and transportation facilities for businesses. The house had a second floor window that was shot out.
Frank DeAguilar, its owner, said the mansion was for rent and he knew nothing about the people who lived there, including their names. A property management firm handles the details, he said.
“It was just a sad situation,” DeAguilar said.
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Paul Davenport in Phoenix and Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/02/11/phoenix-pd-says-man-shot-girlfriend-before-ambushing-officers/ man shoots girlfriend before ambushing officer