PHOENIX - An hours-long barricade situation and shooting left nine police officers hurt, and two people, including the suspected gunman, dead at a home near 51st Avenue and Broadway Road.
Incident began as a shooting call
Officials say the incident began after a woman had reportedly been shot in a home just after 2 a.m. on Feb. 11. In a critical incident briefing that was released on Feb. 25, Phoenix Police officials said it was the suspect in the shooting, identified as 36-year-old Morris Richard Jones III, that called police, claiming that his wife had been shot by an intruder.
When an officer approached the house, Jones reportedly invited him inside before shooting him multiple times in an ambush.
"The first officer was shot multiple times. He was injured the most significantly. Non-life-threatening. At this time, he’s expected to survive," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Andy Williams.
"Chilling because there was no opportunity for my officer to even do what he was trained to do," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
Backup officers later arrived and surrounded the home, with Jones barricaded inside.
At some point during the standoff, a man inside the home, since identified as the brother of the female victim, walked out and placed a baby on the ground before being detained. The female victim was identified as 29-year-old Shatifah Lobley of Phoenix. That man was seen on video walking outside dropping the child off, then walking toward police with his hands up. Police officials said they did detain the man, and he is cooperating with investigators.
"Family members have confirmed for our detectives that the infant is one month old and is a shared child between Lobley and suspect Morris Richard Jones," Phoenix Police said in a news release on Feb. 12.
As officers approached the house to get the baby, the gunman opened fire. Two other officers on scene returned fire, but four more officers were hurt by ricocheting bullets and shrapnel.
"I don't think it's an overstatement to call what these officers did heroic," said Sgt. Andy Williams with Phoenix Police. "They knew that an officer had just been shot in this very doorway, and four officers were willing to run into that doorway to try and save this child."
Eventually, police were able to get inside the home and found Jones dead along with Lobley.
A photo of Morris Richard Jones III that was taken in 2006 (Courtesy: Oklahoma Department of Corrections)
Lobley was identified by police as Jones' ex-girlfriend and the mother of Jones' baby daughter. An attorney who once represented Lobley said she leaves behind two daughters.
"She was very nice. Very affable. She was a great mother," said Kristian Salter. "What I do want people to know about Shatifah, and what I want people to know about domestic violence is that it is not their fault, and the violence they experience is certainly not anything they bring upon themselves."
Police confirmed through an autopsy that Jones had shot and killed himself. He had also been shot one time by police during the shootout, but authorities said that wound would not have been lethal.
According to police reports released on Feb. 28, Jones called his sister during the standoff and told her he wasn't going to spend the rest of his life behind bars. He also reportedly called his mother to say goodbye before taking his own life.
Body camera video released
On Feb. 17, Phoenix Police officials released body camera video showing the moments leading up to the first shooting, which eventually led to the standoff.
The video is about 30 seconds long, and the video was taken from the perspective of the first officer on the scene. That officer was responding to calls of a woman who was shot in the home.
In the video, the officer came face to face with Jones, who was heard telling the officer to hurry over, because his girlfriend was choking.
Seconds later, Jones pulled out a gun and opened fire. The officer was shot multiple times in his right arm and was not able to fire back.
The officer in the video has been identified as a 23-year-old who has been on the force for two-and-a-half years.
On Feb. 25, Phoenix Police released a briefing on the entire incident. The briefing, which was posted onto Phoenix Police's YouTube page, also features other body camera video recordings.
The new footage provides an even closer look at what happened that day. The new video shows a second officer on scene firing at Jones, who closed the door and backed into the house. Jones was then seen trying to leave the house from a back garage.
"A police vehicle parked in the back of the house prevented Jones from leaving," Phoenix Police Sergeant Andy Williams said, in the video. "Squealing can be heard from Jones' vehicle as he drove into the police vehicle."
Other footage shows Jones' brother bringing out a baby girl and placing her in front of the home, and the moment officers rushed in to save her.
"I got the baby! I got the baby!" an officer was heard saying, just before shots rang out. The baby was not harmed.
Police tried several times to call Jones, but they eventually found him dead after getting inside the home.
Suspect identified, had criminal past
Authorities say Jones and Lobley had been in a past relationship, and the baby was their child. The infant was not hurt.
Jones had a long criminal history that stretches back over a decade. We learned via records that he was sentenced to prison for three years for stealing a car in 2004, and in 2007, he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison on drug and weapons charges. Since then, he had been in and out of prison.
According to court documents, investigators have identified Jones as a member of the Crips gang.
"Investigators are working to uncover what led to this terrifying act, some of it which was caught on tape by the media," said Chief Williams. "I saw the video, and it still gives me chills."
Some injured officers were taken to the hospital – all have been released
All of the officers have been released from the hospital and are recovering at home. Those who were hit by shrapnel stayed at the scene until the barricade situation was over.
"All of the injured officers are in great spirits, and appreciate the outpouring of support," said Phoenix Police Sergeant Ann Justus.
Outside Banner University Hospital, where a number of officers who were injured in the incident were receiving treatment, Ann Ender and Linda Colino with the Blue Ribbon Project were doing a task they say they have done a lot lately: putting up blue ribbons as a sign of support for police officers.
"I think all of us who believe in public safety and support our police department are heartbroken when something like this happens," said Ender. "We're all praying."
Members of the Blue Ribbon Project hope their small gesture helped. "They need to know they’re supported," said Colino.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said she visited one of the injured officers in the hospital.
"Today at the hospital, I talked to an officer just about to go into surgery. He only wanted to know about the rest of the squad and how they were doing. That is the type of incredibly selfless individual who serves the City of Phoenix," said Mayor Gallego.
"As gunfire was breaking out, our officers went in," said Chief Williams. "Those are the kind of officers we have in our community." Chief Williams said the officers injured have been on the force for anywhere from two to 20 years, and they suffered different wounds.
"Some arms, some legs, some toes, some shoulders, all different kinds of injuries," said Chief Williams.
Injured officer talks about ordeal
Only one officer, Aldo Nunez, has been identified by the department, and on Feb. 16, he spoke at a news conference alongside Commander Derek Elmore, about the attack.
"There is fear, but I think we all pushed past that, and we have to do our job for the community," said Officer Nunez. "We were there to help the citizens, ensure that we could put an end to this gunfire that was threatening them."
When Officer Nunez arrived at the scene, one officer had already been shot, and when the baby girl was sat on the ground, the officers went in to save her. Nunez himself was moving in to arrest the man who sat the baby girl on the ground when the suspect opened fire. That's when he felt a stinging pain just above his right knee.
"I knew I was struck. I knew I was hurt, and I stayed on scene just because once I checked and saw it was a bit of shrapnel, I felt like my brothers and sisters are shot, and I know they would be here attempting to take him into custody," said Officer Nunez.
Elmore calls Nunez and the eight other officers' recoveries amazing.
"Their spirits from the beginning, I would say nothing short of amazing. They were joking and jovial the whole time, even though the pain, it's incredible to see," Elmore remarked.
Nunez pulled the bullet fragment from his leg with a pair of tweezers and stayed on the scene until the job was done. He says he's ready to get back on the streets, just the place he wants to be.
"It’s a minor injury compared to my brothers and sisters who got shot so, I’m ready to go back out on the streets when it’s my time," he said.
Police chief, mayor held joint news conference
Hours after the shooting, Chief Williams, along with Mayor Gallego, held a joint news conference on the incident.
"I cannot recall another time in city history where so many officers were injured," said Mayor Gallego.
During the news conference, Williams said the shooting is the latest example of violence against police officers. She went on to say that in Phoenix and across the country, officers are being targeted, hurt, and in some cases, killed.
"This is yet another example of the dangers our officers face day in and day out keeping our community safe," said Chief Williams. "Many of these attacks are brazen, and represent a complete disregard for human life. Not just here, but across our country."
Chief Williams said she wants people to understand that overcoming this violence requires a community effort.
"It's the police and the community work together," said Chief Williams. "However, our justice system has to hold repeat offenders and violent offenders accountable. Period."
The neighborhood where the shooting took place has a lot of homes that are nestled close to each other. People who live there were worried when the situation unfolded and subsequently escalated.
Those who live near the home where the suspect was barricaded report hearing several shots around 2:00 a.m.
"When you're sleeping, you think you're dreaming at first. It took me, like five minutes," said one person. "At that point, you think it's right there. After you hear the first one, I said that sounds like a shooting outside or something."
It was when they were evacuated later in the morning they realized how serious the situation was.
"It's pretty quiet for all this to be going on right next door," said Justin Jacobs. "It's kind of crazy, right down the street."
At one point, Phoenix Police officials told people, via a tweet, that they were working on a critical incident, and asked people to stay away for their safety. At around 7 a.m., police posted an update saying the barricade situation has been resolved, and that there is no threat to the public.
Denise Viner knows the commitment it takes when marrying a police officer, and a day later, she and other south Phoenix residents came together to show their support for the officers who were injured.
"My husband has been a police officer for almost 30 years, and I am blessed that so far he continues to come home. So it hurts me every time we hear that there’s a police officer down," Viner said. "We want our police officers to know that the community is behind them. We love them."
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