PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh police officer has undergone surgery to remove a bullet or fragments near his spine after trading gunfire Thursday with a suspect who police said didn’t respond to a stun gun after he crashed his vehicle to end a short chase.
Acting police Chief Regina McDonald hasn’t officially released the names of the wounded officer or a second officer who broke a finger. But memos she sent to police officials identified the wounded officer as Morgan Jenkins.
McDonald said the incident began about 1:30 a.m. in Homewood, a drug- and violence-infested neighborhood.
The officers were on patrol when a car driven by James Robert Hill, 24, sped past them in the opposite direction, prompting the officers to chase him. Hill crashed into a wall after failing to negotiate a turn and police got out of their car to subdue him, but Hill began fighting and didn’t respond when he was hit with a stun gun, McDonald said.
Hill ran into a wooded area nearby, firing shots at the officers who ran after him and returned fire.
The second officer who fired at the suspect and suffered a broken finger was identified as Michelle Auge.
Dozens of officers and city officials gathered outside UPMC Presbyterian hospital where Jenkins had surgery as his family kept a vigil.
McDonald initially said Jenkins was wounded only in his shoulder, though his body armor stopped several other shots. In a subsequent memo, the chief informed others that Jenkins was hit with a second bullet that entered his body below his protective vest and that bullet fragments were removed from his spinal area during surgery.
Jenkins remained in critical condition after the surgery, but doctors gave a “thumbs up” to those at the hospital and indicated they expect the officer will recover, a police official told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because specifics about the officer’s condition were not being officially released.