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Ohio cop, 24, shot dead in standoff with armed arson suspect

Police lights. (MLive File Photo/TNS)

A 24-year-old Ohio cop was shot dead in a standoff with an armed suspect Monday evening. The suspect was wounded.

Officer Brandon Stalker, from Toledo and who had a fiancée and small child, was shot once and died, Chief George Kral told WTVG-TV.

The incident started at around 3:30 p.m., when officers saw someone suspected of vandalizing cathedral earlier Monday and approached, police said.

The doors of historic Rosary Cathedral had been set on fire overnight Sunday, and graffiti had been scrawled around them declaring, “Jesus is Black,” and “Black Jesus,” WTVG had reported earlier on Monday.

As police approached the suspect Monday afternoon, he “brandished a firearm and went into a home,” reported WTVG, citing police.

Cops set up a perimeter, called in a SWAT team and negotiator, and tried to coax him out for hours, police said. When that didn’t work, the SWAT team fired gas canisters into the home to force him out.

The suspect emerged at 6:30 p.m. with two handguns blazing, Kral told WTVG.

Stalker had not been working directly with the SWAT team or the negotiators when he was shot, Kral told reporters Monday evening.

“He was an amazing police officer” who had been with the force since July 2018, Kral said at a press conference, in which he also noted that Stalker had not been directly involved in the confrontation.

“It’s important to know Officer Stalker was not on the SWAT team,” Kral said. “He was not a tactical officer. He was doing perimeter security when he was struck.”

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz also spoke, urging calm on the day set aside to pay tribute to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

“This is a very dark and horrific day for the city of Toledo,” Kapszukiewicz said. “I would simply say for those who would react to what happened today with feelings of hatred and a desire to take our community into an even darker place, I might simply say that Dr. King said that darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that, and hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

Authorities did not release the name of the suspect, or his condition. Kapszukiewicz simply urged the city to remain at peace, noting that Stalker was the third officer to die – two in the line of duty and another “unexpectedly” a few weeks ago – in the past several months.

“So I call on all Toldeoans tonight to say a prayer for their city and to challenge themselves to respond to today’s horrible events with thoughts of love and light,” he said, “and perhaps each in our own way we can drive out the darkness that we feel in our hearts right now and provide a brighter path for our police department, our community, our neighbors and everyone who is suffering tonight.”


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