COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A police officer was critically injured after a man opened fire on a SWAT team trying to arrest him in Ohio’s capital city early Sunday morning.
The suspect, identified as Lincoln Rutledge, refused to surrender after the shooting and Columbus police said several hours passed during which smoke and flames were seen in the suspect’s apartment. The 44-year-old finally gave up around 7:15 a.m. after a loud bang was heard inside the apartment that police say was part of a strategy to end the standoff.
The SWAT officer underwent surgery at Ohio State University medical center. His name wasn’t released while family members were being notified.
Rutledge was wanted on suspicion of setting an arson fire a day earlier. He now faces a preliminary charge of attempted murder. He was being treated at a separate hospital for smoke inhalation and an apparent gunshot wound.
The officer was inside a SWAT vehicle approaching the residence when shots were fired, said Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs. She described the officer as a highly respected, well-liked veteran of the department.
Jacobs said the SWAT team was present because of what she called “erratic behavior” by the suspect and because police knew he had access to guns.
She said it was difficult to explain why the suspect decided to open fire, but emphasized it’s a dangerous time for police.
“There are some very desperate people out there, very dangerous people out there,” Jacobs said. “Sometimes they choose to go out in a certain way and-or take us on in a certain way.”
The court records for Rutledge’s arson charge did not list an attorney able to comment on that charge or Sunday’s arrest.
It was unclear Sunday afternoon how the fire during the standoff started.
Police eventually decided to enter after not detecting movement for a long time, police spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner said.
After the bang was heard, Rutledge immediately surrendered and was taken out through the same window shots were fired from, Weiner said.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins
This story has been corrected to show the officer was shot Sunday, not Saturday.