DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — UPDATE: Please CLICK HERE for the latest information on the officer.
A DeKalb County police officer who had been with the department for less than two years was killed in the line of duty Thursday night following what turned into a violent traffic stop.
"Tonight, a DeKalb County police officer died in the line of duty serving the citizens of DeKalb County," DeKalb County police Chief James Conroy said as he choked back tears Thursday night.
The shooting happened around 5 p.m. along Candler Road in DeKalb County.
Police said the male officer had pulled over a suspect when the suspect ran from the traffic stop and opened fire, hitting the officer.
Conroy said the suspect then hid behind a business along the busy road.
"The police K-9, the K-9 officer and the cover team were able to track behind one of the businesses here on Candler Road. They found the suspect hiding behind one of the businesses. The suspect had a handgun, shot the police K-9," Conroy said. "Several officers returned fire. The suspect received several gunshot wounds."
The officer and the suspect were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where they both later died from their injuries.
The K-9 was taken to an area veterinarian for treatment. Conroy said the dog remains in critical condition.
A witness who was eating inside a nearby restaurant told Channel 2's Tom Regan he heard at least six gunshots.
"When we heard the six gunshots, we don't know … So we kind of ducked inside the restaurant. And then we decided to close the back door, and then I saw all the police officers start coming, and all the ambulances were coming and then we saw some firetrucks, and at that time, we realized something happened, because a lot of police officers were running this way," witness Immy Ahmed told Regan.
Investigators told Channel 2's Richard Elliot that the suspect was a man in his 20s to 30s.
Conroy said the department was not ready to release the names of the officer or the suspect.
The chief ended his briefing praising the officers of his department.
"I am very proud of the men and women of the police department,” Conroy said, commending the officers for continuing their work in such a tough time.
The department has received an outpouring of support from neighboring agencies and the community.
"This is a trying time for us, and we're just happy to have our neighboring agencies and have this close relationship with them," said Assistant DeKalb police Chief Sonya Porter.
Outside of Grady Hospital, police cars lined the streets with their lights on in a show of solidarity.
"An officer's life is just as important as anybody's life. His family is going to be mourning. Fellow officers are mourning," Porter said.
Gov.-elect Brian Kemp took to Twitter to offer his condolences Thursday.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed it has been called in to investigate the shooting.
© 2020 Cox Media Group