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PHOENIX – A Phoenix police officer was out of surgery and recovering in an intensive-care unit after being critically wounded by a fugitive in a shootout that left a fellow officer and the suspect dead, authorities said.
Police Chief Daniel Garcia and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton both said at a news conference outside the hospital Monday night that the injured officer, a nine-year veteran of the force, was "still fighting for his life" and asked for prayers for the families of both officers.
"Today is a tragic reminder that our officers risk their lives for us every single day," said Stanton, who had left on an official trip to Mexico on Monday, but returned later the same day.
Garcia said, "We need a lot of support right now — these are the tough times of policing."
The fallen officer, a 21-year veteran, was a member of the Police Department's fugitive apprehension team and died of his wounds at a hospital a few hours after the shooting at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Garcia said.
No identities have been released.
The shootout occurred after a man wanted on a felony warrant fled in a car, caused a three-vehicle collision, then ran away before exchanging gunfire with officers outside a check-cashing and title loan business, authorities said.
"It was obvious that the guy was out of control," said Wayne Monton, who owns a nearby business and witnessed the shooting. "After the crash and the shooting, everybody just took off running. It was chaos."
The suspect came around a corner with a gun, and a third officer fatally shot him, Detective James Holmes said.
The suspect's name was not immediately released.
An 83-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man suffered minor injuries in the car crash that closed an intersection for several hours as authorities gathered evidence.
Nick Cusson, the manager of a restaurant in a shopping center near the intersection, said he heard more than a dozen gunshots a few minutes after arriving at work.
"The next thing you know, the whole parking lot is scattered with people," Cusson said. "Then within about 30 seconds, we see all these cops driving up."
Cusson said he had noticed several unmarked police cars parked nearby just before the shooting but didn't think much of it.
"Then I guess there was a shootout," he said. "We were all looking out the window. We were kind of curious. We weren't sure they were gunshots at first."
Cusson said he was closing his shop because the entire area had been cordoned off by police.
"No one can come pick their food up, and we can't get delivery drivers out," he said