A gunman killed a Sacramento, California, police officer, fresh out of the academy, who was trying to help a woman retrieve belongings from her home, police said early Thursday.
Officer Tara O’Sullivan, 26, had just graduated from the police academy after studying at Sacramento State University, officials said.
“We are devastated tonight,” Deputy Chief Dave Peletta said at a news conference. “There are no words to convey the depth of sadness we feel or how heartbroken we are for the family of our young, brave officer.”
Police were called shortly before noon (3 p.m. ET) Wednesday about a disturbance involving a man and a woman, according to Sacramento police Sgt. Vance Chandler. They met the woman and hours later accompanied her back to the home, roughly 15 minutes away, to gather some of her things.
While officers were at the scene, the suspect shot O’Sullivan, according to Peletta. Believed to be armed with a rifle, he continued shooting, and the other officers on the scene took cover.
Sacramento police brought in an armored vehicle to rescue O’Sullivan, who was taken to a hospital where she died, Chandler said.
Crisis negotiators worked to convince the suspect to surrender, which he did shortly before 2 a.m. Thursday.
Five officers who exchanged gunfire with the suspect have been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol, as the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, the city attorney’s office and the Office of Public Safety Accountability assist in the investigation.
The woman involved in the earlier disturbance was able to get out safely, according to CNN affiliate KCRA.
Before attending the academy, O’Sullivan studied child development at Sacramento State and was in the first graduating class of the Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars’ Program, which emphasizes inclusion and cultural competence in law enforcement, Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.
“Every day, in service to all of us in Sacramento, our police officers leave home knowing there is a possibility they will never return,” Steinberg said. “Today that horrible possibility became the devastating reality.”
Added City Manager Howard Chan, “We are heartbroken for the loss of Tara O’Sullivan, an officer who served our community and the Sacramento Police Department with honor, integrity and commitment.”
O’Sullivan’s death is the second time this year a young woman has been killed months after graduating from the Sacramento Police Academy. In January, Davis officer Natalie Corona, 22, was fatally shot after responding to a car crash, CNN affiliate KVOR reported. She had graduated from the academy in July, the station said.