KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A police officer was shot and killed Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas while responding to a call about armed suspects fleeing from police, officials said.
The slain officer has been identified as 46-year-old Capt. Robert Melton, police chief Terry Zeigler said.
Zeigler tweeted at about 2:02 p.m. encouraging people to “start prayers” after an officer was shot. He then held a news conference at 4 p.m. at the University of Kansas Hospital, where he confirmed that Melton had died of his injuries.
Melton has been with the Kansas City police force for nearly 17 years and was a member of the Kansas National Guard, FOX 4-KC has reported.
Officials say Melton was shot multiple times in his patrol car when he was approaching four male suspects in an earlier shooting, according to the Associated Press.
"As Cpt. Melton was arriving, the suspects bailed from the vehicle and opened fire, striking Cpt. Melton and fatally wounding him," Zeigler said.
Police spokesman Tom Tomasic said he believes Melton was investigating the disturbance for about 30 minutes and located the vehicle or the suspects before he was shot just before 2 p.m.
The Associated Press reports that police have arrested three suspects and believe they have all those involved in the shooting in custody.
Melton was alone when he was shot, Tomsaic said.
"I don't want to go into details why. We don't know the situation yet," he said. "People need to be notified before I start giving out any details on that."
This makes the second instance of a Kansas City, Kan. officer shot in the line of duty since the May 9 shooting of Det. Brad Lancaster.
Tomasic said that news of the shooting is hitting the department especially hard following Lancaster's death.
"It definitely makes it worse, you've got the feelings of two months ago coming up with the brand new ones," Tomasic said. "It's hard, it's very hard right now. Especially when it's someone who's very close."
Officials say it's too early to know whether the shooting of this officer is related to prior attacks on police in the recent past.
"As far as we know this started out as a crime that we were investigating," Tomsaic said. "So to just say that he was shot for no reason, we don't know that yet."