Charlotte, NC – A female police officer was shot in the leg outside of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) on Thursday night when a murder suspect ambushed a group of officers who were standing in the parking lot.
Police said the gunman, 23-year-old Jonathan Bennett, was killed when the officers returned fire.
“He ambushed us,” CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said during a press conference early Friday morning. “He shot at us.”
CMPD had been searching for Bennett since just after 2 p.m., when they discovered the body of his girlfriend, 24-year-old Brittany White, at a residence, WCNC reported.
Investigators believed that Bennett fatally shot White, and that he fled the residence with the couple’s two-month-old daughter, Journei Bennett, according to WSOC. A second child was left inside the residence, and was unharmed.
Police briefly issued an Amber Alert, but located the infant unharmed at approximately 5:30 p.m., WCNC reported. Investigators have placed the little girl with Bennett’s grandmother.
Officers continued to search for Bennett, who was considered to be armed and dangerous.
“Tonight, just before 11 o’clock, we had North Tyron Division Crime Reduction officers and Probation and Parole officers here in our parking lot, about to brief to do a totally unrelated operation,” Chief Putney explained. “As they were briefing ... the homicide suspect from earlier today that we’d been looking for in the white SUV pulled in, and basically, ambushed our officers.”
As many as eight officers were believed to be in the parking lot at the time of the ambush, WSOC reported.
“Our officers and probation returned fire,” Chief Putney continued. “The suspect was transported to the hospital and is now deceased.”
The chief confirmed that one CMPD officer was shot in the leg, and that she was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
The officer’s name has not been released.
Chief Putney said that police had not yet determined what the shooter’s motive might have been, and he was unable to provide information about any conversation that may have preceded the gunfire.
“This is the very beginning of our investigation,” the chief explained. “Here’s what I’ll tell you. Times like this, make you appreciate people who voluntarily put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”
“Unfortunately, some people use that against us,” he said.
Reporters and two photographers from WSOC were close by during the ambush, and reported having heard approximately a dozen gunshots.
One WSOC photographer said that after the gunman was shot, he could hear an officer screaming in the bushes.
He said the officer was moved to a patrol car before she was taken to the hospital.
Bennett was a convicted felon who served prison time in 2013 for larceny and breaking and entering offenses, according to WSOC.
He was charged with assaulting a woman and misdemeanor larceny in March of 2017, then was arrested for communicating threats approximately two weeks later, WSOC reported.
Bennett was also the subject of a restraining order in 2016.