TECUMSEH, Okla. (AP) — A 22-year-old officer and new recruit died Monday after a shootout with a man who fled a traffic stop in central Oklahoma, police said.
Officer Justin Terney, who had only graduated from the police academy last summer, was shot several times late Sunday and died after undergoing surgery overnight, Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said.
“He was a very young officer, just getting a start,” Kidney said. “He was taken way too soon.”
The man who fired on Terney was also shot multiple times. Kidney said he was in a hospital’s intensive care unit Monday morning. Police have not released his identity.
Terney pulled over a vehicle about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in Tecumseh, 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, according to police. A woman was driving, and Terney called dispatchers to see if a male passenger had any outstanding warrants.
Kidney said the male passenger ran toward some nearby woods at that point. He said Terney chased the man on foot and used a stun gun, but that failed to stop the man, who then shot at Terney. The officer returned fire.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said it will assist with investigating the crime scene, which is common for shootings involving police.
Officers detained the woman who was driving so they could ask her questions about what happened.
Kidney told The Oklahoman that Terney had a new puppy and had hoped to become a canine officer. Terney grew up in Canadian, a town in eastern Oklahoma, and was also a volunteer firefighter, Kidney said.
Dillon Degraffenreid, 21, a paramedic in Tecumseh who worked with Terney, said he stayed by Terney’s side after he was shot and was part of the group that escorted his body to his hometown.
“It’s a very rough day,” Degraffenreid told The Associated Press on Monday.
Terney had quickly become part of Tecumseh and was known to play basketball with kids there. Degraffenreid said Terney was always ready for a laugh and often joked about how he only needed no-bake cookies and chocolate milk to be happy.
“He always had a smile on his face,” Degraffenreid said.
Bruce and Shirley Walck, who were walking their dogs through Tecumseh’s downtown Monday, said Terney’s death was a shock to the close-knit community.
“Even though we didn’t know him we felt like he was part of the town,” Shirley Walck said.
Gov. Mary Fallin, who grew up and graduated from high school in Tecumseh, offered her condolences to those affected by Terney’s killing.
“It makes us remember and realize how dangerous being in law enforcement is these days,” Fallin said. “Especially to have a 22-year-old officer who had just been an officer for a year is certainly very tragic, and our prayers go out with his family and his friends and relatives and certainly with the Tecumseh police force.”
Fallin said she intends to order all flags on state property to be flown at half-staff on the day of Terney’s funeral, which hasn’t been scheduled.
Associated Press writers Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City and Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.