RAPID CITY, S.D. – A western South Dakota police officer was killed and two others were seriously wounded after a shootout with a man during a routine stop, authorities said late Tuesday.
Officer James Ryan McCandless, 28, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, while Officer Nick Armstrong, 27, was in critical condition after undergoing surgery, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said during a news conference. The third officer, who was shot in the side of the face, was listed as stable. His name hasn't been released.
Gunfire erupted about 10 minutes after the three officers approached four people at an intersection in the city. Allender wouldn't say exactly what the four people were doing, only that their behavior was "suspicious" and that alcohol may have been involved. One man pulled a gun and fired several shots, Allender said.
At least one officer returned fire and hit the suspect, who also underwent surgery late Tuesday, Allender said. His name and condition haven't been released. No other suspects in the shooting were being sought.
"It was not a high-risk situation. It was a routine stop," Allender said in an emotional statement just hours after the shootings.
"This is family," the chief said. He paused to compose himself, then added: "We've got to pick up the pieces from this, no matter how hard it hurts. We have to show up at work tomorrow and do the same job these guys did today."
McCandless was the first Rapid City officer killed in the line of duty since 1985. The city, on the eastern border of Black Hills National Forest, is home to about 63,000 people.
McCandless had recently told his boss that he wanted to be police chief when Allender retired. "He was very bright, very capable, and probably could have made that happen," Allender said.
"He was recently engaged to be married, recently bought a new house, a farm with horses ... and recently remarked to me that he couldn't stop adopting goats," Allender said. "He was looking forward to being on that farm for years to come."
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the case.