The Birmingham Police Department has confirmed that one officer has died and another is in critical condition after being shot in the line of duty.
Per WBRC, Birmingham PD Chief Patrick Smith confirmed the shooting occurred at approximately 1:59 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of 5th Avenue North as the officers were investigating two suspects during an apparent vehicular burglary in progress.
The police department has since confirmed that Sergeant Wytasha Carter was the officer killed in the line of duty.
A press release from Birmingham PD described Carter’s career of service spent protecting the people of Alabama.
The release follows:
Sergeant Carter began his law enforcement career in 2002 as a correctional officer with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Later that year he joined the Leeds Police Department where he served as an officer. In 2007, Sergeant Carter joined the Fairfield Police Department until transferring to the Birmingham Police Department.
Sergeant Carter is a 1993 graduate of Phillips High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Belford University. He also served in the United States Air Force. He is survived by his wife and children.
WBRC also noted that Carter was one of three officers who rushed into a house fire to save two little girls in 2016.
“The main thing is that we’re here for them. We’re going to do everything that we can to support them,” Smith said of Carter’s family. “This is a very difficult time. There are members of the department who have worked with them for years. They are hurting like everyone else.”
An extensive investigation into the Sunday morning shooting is underway and being led by the State Bureau of Investigation, but Chief Smith did outline the basics of what was immediately known.
One suspect shot the two officers after a pat-down revealed he was armed.
One suspect is currently in custody and another was shot and hospitalized.
Officials are not sure if there is a third suspect outstanding.
“This is one of the roughest hours of your career. There’s not a chief, not an officer, that ever wants to have to deal with this,” Smith said. “This is a very, very difficult thing for the family. A very difficult thing for the department.”
The chief explained that there have been vehicle thefts and burglaries in the area and that the officers were working an investigation at the time of the shooting. It was not immediately clear if the rash of break-ins are related to the shooting.
Public officials in the Birmingham metro area, as well as law enforcement officers across the state, released statements after the shooting Sunday.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin called for prayers for Carter’s family, as well as the wounded officer.
“Join me in praying for the family of the Birmingham Police officer killed early this morning, and the officer who is currently in the hospital. They were shot while serving and protecting our city. Two suspects are currently in custody. Birmingham police continue to investigate this case,” Woodfin said on Facebook.
Woodfin added, “As a city, we stand with the families of these officers and the Birmingham Police Department at this tragic time.”
U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town of the Northern District of Alabama released the following statement:
This tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers all law enforcement face while we sleep. While they keep us safe. While they do the job. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the officers, the officer still fighting for life, and the fallen officer whose end of watch came much too soon.
The Birmingham City Council released the following statement:
On behalf of the Birmingham City Council, please join me in lifting up our thoughts and prayers for the families of the officers shot this morning, as well as the men and women of Birmingham Police Department. Our officers make many sacrifices to keep us safe. Early this morning one officer made the ultimate sacrifice and another of our officers is still in critical condition.
The Birmingham City Council stands with the law abiding citizens, families, and victims, and will cooperatively work with Mayor Woodfin and other law enforcement agencies to combat this senseless act of violence.
Attorney General Steve Marshall tweeted, “Alabama lost a police officer, another is critically injured in Birmingham. We stand with them and their families.”
We are devastated to learn of the loss of a Birmingham Police Department sergeant and the critical wounding of a BPD officer last night. We’re praying for these officers’ families, their brothers and sisters at BPD, and for safety and protection for all our police officers.
— City of Hoover (@CityofHoover) January 13, 2019
In an official statement, Mayor Woodfin added, “Sgt. Wytasha Carter laid down his life for the city he served. This husband and father was a true public servant and will be honored by each of us.”
Woodfin said, “As this investigation continues, I ask that everyone pause and reflect on how our Birmingham police officers go out every day to protect our community.”
“We also remain in prayer for the second officer who was shot along with Sgt. Carter. He is currently in critical condition,” the mayor advised.
Woodfin continued, “As the scripture teaches us, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'”
“Each day, Birmingham police officers risk their lives when they report for duty,” Woodfin concluded. “This is a time of mourning for our city, but please know our police officers will be dedicated to justice and continued service for the people of Birmingham.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn