DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver police officer and a suspect were both shot and wounded on Wednesday night.
It was the second time on Wednesday that a Denver police officer was shot, with bulletproof vests helping save both of their lives.
“We could have lost two of our officers, but because of them keeping themselves safe with equipment, their training and their tactics, we’re in a very fortunate position,” Rick Kyle, division chief of administration, said in a briefing to news media.
Kyle said the incident began at 7:28 p.m., when police received an alert of gunfire from the ShotSpotter system near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Cherry Street.
An officer and his partner arrived within two minutes. There, they got information from a witness and found a person matching the description around 7:33 p.m., Kyle said. The suspect, a male, fled on a scooter and later on foot, with officers going from their vehicle to a foot chase that lasted a few blocks to Forest Street.
Officer shot in chest, but bulletproof vest saves his life
Next, Kyle described the shooting this way.
“Very quickly after that, there was a confrontation between the suspect and the officer and shots were fired. There was an exchange of gunfire. The officer was struck in the chest, however, he was wearing his ballistic armor, and that was able to, thankfully, absorb the round that he was struck with. The suspect was struck by gunfire from the officer. Both have been transported to the hospital, where the officer is in good condition, and at last report, the suspect was in critical condition,” Kyle said.
Police were still working to positively identify the suspect, who may have been with a female, Kyle said. Investigators did not have information to share about who may have been the target of the initial shooting.
The officer who was wounded, a man, has been on the force since 2017.
Police Chief Ron Thomas left town earlier on Wednesday, Kyle said. The chief has been in touch with officers at the hospital about the wounded officer’s condition.
District Attorney Beth McCann was also on the scene Wednesday night, Kyle said.
The investigation will be joint between the Denver Police Department Homicide Unit, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Colorado State Patrol, with it overseen by the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor. The results will be presented to the Denver District Attorney’s Office for review.
Choking up, Kyle commended “the bravery and heroism” of Denver police officers who show up “despite extreme threats” to their safety. He said while bulletproof vests are strongly encouraged, they are not required.
In the earlier shooting around 4 a.m. Wednesday, outside a Denver hotel, police said the suspect walked up to a patrol car and fired shots through the passenger window. The officer returned fire, and the suspect was killed.
The suspect’s identity had not been released as of Wednesday night.