Phoenix, AZ – A Phoenix police officer who was shot during a traffic stop on Thursday night has been stabilized, and is breathing on his own, officials said Friday morning.
The unnamed officer, who has been with the department for approximately 18 months, was able to return fire during the encounter, critically wounding the suspect, Phoenix Police Sergeant Mercedes Fortune said, according to The Arizona Republic.
The incident occurred at approximately 8 p.m. near the intersection of Cactus and Cave Creek roads, Sgt. Fortune recounted.
The driver finally stopped, and fired at least two rounds at the officer as he was exiting his patrol vehicle.
The officer immediately returned fire, hitting the suspect.
Sgt. Fortune was unable to confirm how many times the officer or his assailant had been shot. Both were rushed to a local hospital in critical condition, The Arizona Republic reported.
Police did not provide an update on the suspect’s condition at that time.
There were no other suspects in the altercation.
“In my opinion, I believe [the officer] was ambushed,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a press conference outside the hospital on Thursday night, according to The Arizona Republic. "They don't know when they make a traffic stop what's going to happen in that traffic stop. But at the same time, day in and day out, they get up, they put this uniform on, they put a vest on, and they go out and protect this community.''
“You come to work, and you hope for the best…but you just never know,” Sgt. Fortune added, according to KTVK. "This is an incident where I guarantee you, the officer had that in the back of his mind and unfortunately, this happened to him tonight."
Chief Williams described the injured officer as one of the agency’s “younger officers,” and said he is assigned to the Desert Horizon precinct.
She noted that attacks on Phoenix police officers have increased by a staggering 45 percent this year.
"I know right now, Phoenix Police Department has a problem with people who are being aggressive toward our officers," Chief Williams said. "We're asking for the community's thoughts and prayers on the recovery of one of our brave men and women in blue.”