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Kalamazoo Officer Fatally Shot By Suspect In Line of Duty

Kalamazoo Officer Fatally Shot By Suspect In Line of Duty

Associated Press

April 19, 2011

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A man fleeing a gunfight with one police officer confronted another and fatally shot him in a southwestern Michigan city alley, police said Tuesday. The gunman then turned the gun on himself.

Officer Eric Zapata, a 10-year veteran of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, was shot in the head and chest late Monday night, Chief Jeff Hadley said during a news conference. The 35-year-old officer was declared dead at a hospital.

“We as a community did not send one of our officers home safely at the end of his shift,” Hadley said.

The suspect, 31-year-old Leonard Statler, died from what police belief was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Officers were called to the city’s Edison neighborhood about 11:18 p.m. Monday following a report of shots being fired.

The first officer to arrive saw Statler on a porch and asked if he heard any shots, Hadley said.

At that point, Statler was not a suspect but he pulled out a gun and began trading shots with the officer, who radioed for help as he took cover, Hadley said.

Statler then fled, running between two houses. Moments later, the officer who had questioned him and others in the area heard more gunshots.

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