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A police officer who was shot earlier this week “will not recover” from his injuries, authorities in Joplin, Missouri, now say. Joplin Police Department Patrol Officer Jake Reed will donate his organs in death, according to his surviving family members.
“We’re so proud, so thankful and forever in debt for his service to this community,” JPD Chief Sloan Rowland said during an ominous press conference on Thursday. “Jake is an outstanding young man.”
Reed is the second JPD officer who will have lost their lives after a Tuesday shooting in which three officers in total were shot.
“The tragedy continues,” Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards said in opening remarks at the press conference.
According to authorities, JPD Corporal Benjamin Cooper was the first to die on Wednesday following an initial confrontation with 40-year-old Anthony Felix in a shopping mall. The assailant was himself later killed on the scene amidst a back-and-forth hail of bullets.
Police say Felix shot Reed and Cooper, stole a patrol car, and tried to escape — but he quickly crashed the vehicle. After that, police say, the shooter attempted to steal another car but was found by Officer Rick Hirshey, who tried to use his patrol car to stop the second theft. Felix then shot Hirshey in the face through his windshield, police say.
The police chief singled out Hirshey’s efforts as an attempt to try and “end this violent rampage.”
After that, Felix was shot and finally killed by Captain William Davis, according to Chief Rowland, who noted that Davis’s actions were taken outside of cover while he was exposed to potential gunfire.
“If not for Captain Davis’s actions, additional officers and citizens could have been killed,” the police chief said.
Hirshey, Rowland noted, retired three months prior to the crime spree after some 20 years on the force but had just come back to work in a limited fashion as part of a so-called “crime free” team. The ailing officer faces several surgeries over the next several days, the police chief said, and is currently in serious but stable condition. While those “challenges” are substantial and health problems are likely, Rowland added, Hirshey is expected to survive.
Information about Felix is currently scarce, and the police department is keeping mum. Officials have, however, described the initial law enforcement interaction as routine. The incident began at around 1:30 p.m. when officers responded to a reported disturbance at Northpark Crossing shopping center. It’s unclear what prompted the violence but shots were quickly fired as the situation deteriorated.
Support for the dead and wounded officers and their families is abundant in the medium-sized town of some 50,000 residents. Joplin is in the southwestern corner of Missouri near that state’s border with Kansas and Oklahoma; Arkansas is less than an hour to the south.
“Please be present, show up, engage, and let the nation and world see, just like after our tornado, how we respond to tragedy as a community,” Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley said earlier this week – referencing a disastrous tornado that killed 160 people and left the town in shambles in 2011. “We know how to pull together in love.”
During the Thursday press conference, Stanley described Reed as “one of our best.”
“I can’t imagine trying to replace him,” he added.
[images via Joplin Police Department]
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