- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2016

Prince George’s County Police Officer Jacai Colson died Sunday night after two men ambushed the department’s District 3 station in Landover in what authorities were calling an “unprovoked attack.”

At around 4:30 p.m. two men opened fire on several officers and shot 28-year-old Officer Colson, who is a four-year veteran of the force. Officer Colson was taken to Prince George’s County Hospital Center, where he died.

Police apprehended both suspects quickly, one of whom had been shot in the pursuit. That suspect was also taken to Prince George’s County Hospital Center, where police said he was being treated for non-life-threatening wounds. The other suspect was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Citing family members, The Washington Post reported that the two arrested men were Malik Ford and Michael Ford, and that Michael Ford was the suspect shot by police.

Cpl. Harry A. Bond, spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department, declined to confirm or deny that report in an email to The Washington Times.

The attack took place at Palmer Park Community Center, next to the Landover police station.

SEE ALSO: Jacai Colson is Prince George’s County police officer killed at Landover, Md. station

Police Chief Henry Stawinski said when the suspects opened fire, officers were just going about their business and hadn’t made any contact with them. Suddenly, the officers were involved in a shootout.

“Those officers did not shrink,” Chief Stawinski said at a Sunday night press conference at Prince George’s County Hospital Center. Officer Colson “stepped into action. I’m very proud of him.”

Police are still investigating any motives for the shooting and didn’t expect any updates until Monday morning. Chief Stawinski did say police were working with the FBI. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also was assisting.

The shooting prompted multiple roadblocks in the Landover area late Sunday afternoon. Police advised that residents “shelter in place,” and that outsiders not travel to the area because of an “active shooter” scenario.

Those warnings were lifted shortly before 8 p.m., after the second suspect was arrested and the search called off.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered that flags be flown at half-staff throughout the state in the slain man’s honor.

“The First Lady and I send our sincere prayers to the family and loved ones of Officer Colson … it is my hope that his proud legacy of commitment and passion for law enforcement and serving others will provide some comfort in the difficult days that lie ahead,” he said in a statement.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said the killing of Officer Colson was a “horrific act of evil.”

“We have another mother tonight without her son,” Ms. Alsobrooks said. “Murder is a crime against our entire community. And that’s how we will treat it. We will turn to the law.”

Prince George’s County Fraternal Order of Police President John Teletchea said Mr. Colson was a good friend of his and that the officer, who worked undercover as a vice cop, was known for his infectious smile.

“This is a police family that is truly, truly grieving right now,” Mr. Teletchea said. “But even now while we grieve, the men and women of the police department are actively doing their job protecting this community.”

A spate of recent police officer shooting deaths and increasing anti-police rhetoric have some law enforcement officials concerned, particularly since more of the deaths seem to be planned ambushes with guns rather than the unintended result of felon pursuit.

Six officers and deputies were fatally shot in incidents in Georgia, North Dakota, Maryland, Oregon and Colorado in just the week between Feb. 5 and 11.

The Maryland shooting deaths were two longtime Harford County sheriff’s deputies, one suddenly shot to death in a routine call to a Panera restaurant in Abingdon, the second killed during the chase.

Eleven out of 14 line-of-duty deaths for law enforcement officers so far this year have been the result of a gun. At this time last year, only one of the 15 police officer deaths was gun-related.

But data also shows that there were an abnormally low number of shootings for 2015, when there were 42 total firearms-related fatalities recorded. That’s a 19 percent decrease from the average annual number of firearm-related police fatalities for the last decade, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Andrea Noble and Victor Morton contributed to this report.

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