DETROIT (FOX 2) - Chief James White and Mayor Mike Duggan said the city and police department were grieving following the fatal shooting of a Detroit officer on the city's west side Wednesday night. Officers were "heartbroken" White said of the department, while the souls of the fallen policeman's family were "crushed."
"We lost a hero today," White said to TV cameras late Wednesday night. "This did not have to happen. How do you tell a mom and a child what I just had to tell them?"
Both the chief and Duggan also made brief remarks about the gun violence that continues to sweep the country - calling Wednesday's shooting and the assaults against police officers "outrageous."
"There is so much violence it seems like there is nowhere in this country you can be safe, but there is people who don't believe that. They are police officers and they have a calling," Duggan said. "They believe that they can protect us and the Detroit police officers every day confront the most violent people in this community in order to protect the rest of us."
We owe a debt of gratitude to all the officers working and tonight we have an officer and a family with a debt we can never repay."
White described the family's reaction to the news as heartbreaking as well. "This is the worst day of their life. Dad is not coming home, husband is not coming home. It's absolutely unacceptable."
"Tonight we lost a hero in our department and regardless of where you stand on this political issue of gun violence, it's entirely too much gun violence in this city, too much gun violence in this country," White said, "and now we've got an officer who has paid the ultimate sacrifice, putting his life on the line for you and me every single day. And officers are doing it even after this call."
A lot remains unknown about the incident that led up to the shooting. Detroit police are expected to give more information sometime Thursday.
Confirmed so far is the officer that was shot was struck by a suspect wielding a Draco assault rifle. Police had responded to the area of Marlowe and Joy Road around 7:30 p.m. following reports of shots being fired.
When they arrived, the suspect shot the officer. His partner returned fire and struck the gunman.
The officer was taken to Sinai Grace Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The suspect's identity has not been released. Neither has the officer's - only that he was a 5-year veteran of the department and that he came from a long line of law enforcement. His dad most recently retired from the Detroit Police Department.
It's unclear why the suspect was shooting in the first place.