- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) - A 61-year-old police officer was shot and critically wounded Thursday while responding to a call that a man had been shot in Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle, authorities said.

The suspect remained barricaded in a home firing at officers Thursday night.

The wounded Mount Vernon police officer with some 30 years of experience on the job was initially taken to Skagit Valley Hospital. The male officer was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Thursday night with a gunshot wound to the head, according to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

She said the officer, who has not been named, was in surgery at about 10:30 p.m.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Leary told reporters the officer was responding to the call just after 5:30 p.m. when a suspect began shooting from a house, hitting the officer. Leary said the victim from the initial call was grazed by a bullet and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. It wasn’t immediately known if the two shootings were connected, Leary said.

The officer was conscious and alert when taken to the local hospital, Leary said. Officers don’t why the suspect fired at the officer. It is believed there is at least one hostage inside the home with the suspect, who Leary said is well known to police.

“He is a violent offender,” Leary told reporters.

He said the gunman was talking with some people but it wasn’t clear if he was speaking with negotiators or others.

The Mount Vernon neighborhood was closed by police while officers and a SWAT team were attempting to negotiate.

Skagit Valley College said Thursday night that because of police activity the Mount Vernon campus was in lockdown and closed. The school tweeted “everyone get inside and stay inside.”

The shooting comes less than a month after a Tacoma police officer was killed responding to a domestic violence call. Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, 45, was fatally shot Nov. 30. The suspected gunman was killed by a sheriff’s marksman, ending an 11-hour standoff.

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