An Alabama police sergeant was killed and another officer critically wounded in a shooting in Birmingham early Sunday, police said.
The officers were investigating a call about vehicle burglaries when they encountered two suspects just before 2 a.m. local time, according to Birmingham Police Department Sergeant Johnny Williams.
“The officers approached the suspects to investigate when one suspect produced a weapon and began to fire at the officers,” Williams said in a press release.
The officers and one of the suspects were struck by gunfire and taken to UAB Hospital. A second suspect was taken into custody.
Sergeant Wytasha Carter, 44, of Birmingham, later died of his injuries, police said. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Injured officer not ‘out of the woods’
The second officer is still in a “very critical” condition, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said Sunday during a news conference. “Trust me when I tell you, he is not completely out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination,” Smith said.
The police chief said the injured officer has been with the Birmingham Police Department for about two years.
“For me as Chief of Police, it’s very difficult for me to look both of their families in the eye and explain to them the tragedy that we have had to endure and – for one of them – that their loved one will not be coming back,” he said. “Sgt. Carter’s family has endured a lot. In a matter of moments, everything they knew as true and their expectation of tomorrow has changed.”
He said both suspects are local and about 18 years old.
Asked if there was a third suspect, Smith said police were keeping all options open. “We’re trying to determine exactly how many people were there,” he said.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the entire community was mourning Carter’s death.
“Sgt. Carter is a husband, a father, a son, a brother who lost his life in the line of duty today,” he said, imploring people to keep praying for Carter’s family and the police community.
’A very compassionate, natural born leader’
Carter had been with the Birmingham Police Department since 2011 and had been promoted to sergeant in February 2018, police said.
He began his law enforcement career in 2002 as a correctional officer with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and served as an officer for the Leeds and Fairfield police departments before transferring to Birmingham, the police department said.
Carter had also served with the US Air Force and had an arts degree from Belford University, police said.
“Everyone around him, who’s worked with him, has indicated that he was a very compassionate, natural born leader,” Smith said. “They enjoyed working with him, working around him.”
The State Bureau of Investigation is the lead agency investigating the shooting, he said.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.