INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- An Independence police officer survived a gunshot to the head and life-saving surgery Wednesday, and now his colleagues and family are asking for thoughts and prayers and privacy.
"Centerpoint Medical Center has treated and admitted the Independence Police Officer who was involved in an incident this morning at 10 a.m. Following life saving surgery, he is in critical condition. Given that there is an ongoing police investigation, the family is asking for privacy at this time," the news release said.
The officer has not been identified, but is out of surgery and in critical condition.
The unidentified police officer was shot shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday at a home in Independence on South Delaware Avenue, and according to a police source, the officer was shot in the head. Dispatch reported the 'officer down'. Two suspects fled from the scene and a chase began. The suspects, according to records, escaped in the SUV that belonged to the person who owns the home. The officer is believed to have exchanged gunfire with the suspects before they escaped in the stolen car.
Police pursued the suspect vehicle, and it was stopped near 23rd and Maywood, about three miles away from where the officer was shot. The suspects were taken into custody near 23rd and Cedar, and at least one suspect was taken away by ambulance.
"Upon their arrival, the suspects fled the scene and in doing so, fired and shot one officer. Officers returned fire. One officer was injured and taken to the hospital," said Capt. Carl Perry, Commander of Community Service Unit. "Your thoughts and prayers to be with the officer and the family would be appreciated."
Neighbors say the homeowner was in his house during the burglary and looked a bit battered and bruised when police escorted him out.
"I saw a gentleman in a red shirt being brought out of the house," said Kathryn Tempel, a neighbor. "Later I thought I saw him standing, talking to police, so I don't think he was the bad guy, I think he might have been the homeowner."
Tempel said when she heard the gunfire, she thought a transformer had blown.
"When I looked out, that's when I saw the police cars, the many police cars," she said.
FOX 4 spoke with another neighbor near South Delaware Avenue who said her daughter came to tell her something was going on. When she looked out her window, she saw several police officers shooting towards the house.
"They had shot through, one of the garage doors was completely shot through, and pulled one of the guys out," witness Tracy Crookham said. "And then it looked like they pulled another guy out through the back, and they were all surrounding the house next door so we assumed that somebody was still inside."
Our crew on the scene says at 2:00 p.m., officers can be seen marking vehicles, huddling together talking, and knocking on doors. Police drones were being used in the investigation. FOX 4's Marcus Officer spoke to the Independence Police Dept. public information officer, who said his hands are tied to release additional information until he's given approval.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker was on the scene. (Scroll down for FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien's video report.)
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Peters-Baker's office released the following statement:
The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office offers its prayers and thoughts for the veteran Independence Police Officer who was injured in the line of duty this morning. This officer was responding to calls for service in the area of 3600 South Delaware in Independence when he was struck by gunfire. The officer remains hospitalized and his injuries are critical. Additional law enforcement agencies responded to assist. The shooting remains under investigation and is being led by the Kansas City (MO) Police Department at the request of Independence police. Any criminal charges related to this incident are not expected until Thursday. No further statement is expected today regarding the incident.
The public information officer said officers ride in one-man units. When they're called to a scene, additional officers are called to assist.
Several Independence police officers could be seen standing around the emergency room of Centerpoint Medical Center. In addition to Independence police officers, officers from Blue Springs, Kansas City and Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies were on the scene.
During a news briefing Wednesday afternoon, Capt. Carl Perry, Commander of Community Service Unit, thanked the community for the concerns and support. See his interview here:
FOX 4 has crews at the scene. Expect continuing coverage on fox4kc.com. If you're a Facebook user, check our Facebook page for live reports there as well. Download the app for news in between FOX 4 newscasts.