KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Struggling to understand why their badge has turned them into a target, metro police officers are "shocked" to hear a Gladstone officer was shot and injured during a traffic stop Sunday night.
The shooting happened just after 10 p.m. Sunday night near 169 Highway and Vivion Road in the Northland near the Kansas City, Mo., city limits.
The police officer shot was hit in the hand, had surgery Monday and is expected to be okay. His identity has yet to be officially released by police, so FOX 4 is not naming him.
Jacob Stevens, 18, is the man who police said pulled the trigger. During the struggle, police said they returned fire, shooting and killing Stevens.
Police said Stevens was a passenger in the car they pulled over. They said he jumped out and tried to run away.
When they chased him down, a struggle ensued and police said Stevens pulled a handgun on them. Shots were fired, with Stevens shooting an officer in the hand, and the officers firing back.
Members of the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police said they can't believe another brother in blue was shot while on the job.
“To get the phone call that one of our local brothers had been shot was devastating,” said Brad Lemon, president of the KC FOP, “especially because we didn’t know what the status of the officer was or the situation.”
The injured officer is 33 years old and has worked at Gladstone PD for the past two-and-a-half years. The other officer who was with him also went to the hospital, but was quickly released.
“This is what we do for a living,” Lemon said, “but it’s also who we are. So when you finally hear that the officer is going to be okay, you feel super relieved.”
On the other hand, close friends of Stevens said they believe their friend was a good person who just made a terrible mistake.
“He made mistakes, yes, but that`s not what he should be remembered by at all,” said Jessica Butler, who said she was Stevens’ close friend, but she felt more like his sister. “He was trying to change.”
Stevens' friends acknowledge his criminal record, as he was charged with theft and stealing back in August in a case where prosecutors said he also tried to run from police.
But friends told FOX 4 he had a tough past and was working to overcome certain struggles to achieve a brighter future.
“He`s a good kid,” Butler said. “He`s the goofiest, funniest, silliest person you could’ve ever met. Whenever you`re around him, it was nothing but smiles all the time.”
Added Jamal Davis, another close friend, “He was actually a loving person. He cared about all his friends and he took his friendships with everybody serious.”
So what do his friends think happened that led Stevens to allegedly shoot a police officer?
“It`s that split thinking, that fast thinking, fast pace adrenaline that got to his head,” Davis guessed. “And he probably just made that mistake, but that`s not Jacob.”
But police paint a different picture, with Lemon pointing out officers getting shot on the job is sadly now the norm.
“The general consensus is we’re just shocked,” Lemon said. “It`s really hard to understand what`s going on in America today.”
With a total of four officers across the country getting shot or killed in just the past 36 hours, Lemon wants to see a change.
“We need to change our mindset in this country that police officers have a job to do,” he said. “Agree or disagree with the job, or agree to disagree that sometimes what we do isn`t pretty, but it`s necessary.”
Lemon said he supports Missouri Governor-Elect Eric Greiten’s push for tougher legislation for anyone who targets a police officer, as well as Greiten’s plan to launch a Blue Alert system that would push suspect information out quickly to the public and media, similar to an Amber Alert for missing children.
As for friends of Stevens, they plan to hold a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Englewood Park in the Northland.