RICHMOND, Ind. — A Richmond police officer is fighting for her life after being shot during a traffic stop, authorities said. The suspect who shot her was arrested.
According to the Indiana State Police, the shooting occurred near 12th Street and C Street in Richmond at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Police confirmed 28-year-old Officer Seara Burton was shot. She was flown to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.
“She is in very critical condition fighting for her life,” said Richmond Police Chief Mike Britt. “Those of you who pray I ask you to pray for her, because she can use it.”
Officer Burton is a four-year veteran and was recently elevated to the K-9 unit. Burton was also engaged and supposed to be married soon, Britt said.
According to the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, Burton is undergoing surgery.
Police said Burton responded to a call from other officers to help with a traffic stop at North 12th Street and C Street. Officer Burton found a moped driven by a male, identified as 47-year-old Phillip M. Lee.
Indiana State Police say Officer Burton’s K9 partner Brev indicated the possible presence of narcotics sniffing around the moped.
ISP said while officers were talking with Lee, he pulled out a firearm and shot several rounds toward officers. Officer Burton was struck. At this point, police have not released how many times she was shot.
Other officers on the scene returned fire, striking Lee, but he ran off. Officers were able to get him into custody after a short foot chase. Police did not release how many times Lee was shot.
Lee was transported to Reid Hospital in Richmond. He has been arrested on probable cause. The Wayne County Prosecutor will determine what charges he will face.
CBS4 spoke to witnesses at the scene who said the officer was shot in the head. Police later confirmed Burton did suffer a gunshot wound to the head.
On Thursday, Britt said Officer Burton successfully underwent surgery but still remains in extremely critical condition.
“She is initially showing slight signs of responsiveness,” Britt wrote. “She has not regained consciousness and is still fighting for her life.”
Chief Britt did say the entire department suited up to come to the scene on Wednesday and offer help in response to the incident. Britt said the department was devastated, calling Burton a “fine officer.”
Joyce Deloney told CBS4 she witnessed part of the shooting, at first thinking she was hearing fireworks before she walked across a parking lot and saw gunfire striking a building causing Deloney to turn and run.
“I think everyone is in shock, maybe a little bit of disbelief that this was happening here,” Deloney said, adding that the neighborhood has lots of families and children.
“It’s tragic that this happened… I think this could have been prevented.”
Richmond Mayor Dave Snow released the following statement in response to the shooting:
The last several hours have felt like an eternity for our team as we’ve all struggled with the reality of this tragic event. Office Burton, her family, the Richmond Police Department, and our city team have received a tremendous outpouring of love and support from this community, local and state elected officials, and citizens from other cities around Indiana. Richmond has stepped up in droves to support our officers. Over the next week, you may see a larger presence of Indiana State Police in the city as they assist our department. I want to thank State Superintendent Doug Carter and our State police for their services during this difficult time. We thank everyone for your continued prayers and messages of solidarity and comfort. It means a lot right now, and we know our police department will continue to need your kindness in the days to come. Officer Burton is a brave young officer who put her life on the line daily so all of us could live in a safer community. Right now, she is in a difficult fight, and we are all fighting with her. If you are privileged to know Officer Burton, you know she is a strong, resilient woman, and it’s her strength and your prayers that will give her the best chance to win this fight. If you would like to show your support, a prayer vigil is being held at the South entrance of the City Building at 7 pm on Friday, August 12. We continue to be humbled by the service of our officers and their families to our community. We are a stronger community because of their commitment and dedication to all of us.Mayor Snow