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Off-duty Birmingham police officer shot while responding to call

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(CBS 42)
By Jordan Highsmith
CBS 42

The Latest on the police-officer involved shooting Sunday morning:

UPDATE 1:15 P.M.

During the latest news conference, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said Detective John Finke is the officer involved in the shooting. He made it out of his first surgery and is in intensive care remaining in critical condition.

Chief Smith believes he will require additional surgery due to the injury to the abdomen area and excessive blood loss.

In a new development, police reported they have two suspects in custody. Police believe Finke may have observed the robbery taking place, then requested additional help at the location. During the robbery, the suspect took two cell phones from the victims before Finke intervened.

Police do not believe the victims were struck

The second suspect was located at the Winn Dixie grocery store in the 2200 block of Bessemer Road.

Finke has been with the Birmingham Police Department for 15 years. He works in the narcotics unit. Originally police thought he was struck three times, twice in the stomach and once in the arm. However, police say the bullet that hit him in the arm was a ricochet bullet that hit the ground first and did not penetrate his skin.

Finke is married and has one daughter in college. The two of them are headed to the hospital to be with him at this time.

Currently, Birmingham police detectives are canvassing every resident in the area to find more information that can help them with the investigation.

UPDATE 12 P.M.

Birmingham Police were able to track the victim’s cell phone to the Birmingham Ensley neighborhood, Police Chief Patrick Smith said. They were stolen during the robbery.

Once officers were in the area of the cell phone location, they found one suspect inside of a vehicle. They were able to detain him. The suspect had the two victims’ cell phones in his possession at the time that he was detained.

Police have taken the cell phones in for evidence. In addition, police took in a handgun found in the vehicle. It’s not clear if it was the weapon used in the shooting.

At this time, one suspect is in custody. Police are gathering more information to make sure they have the correct suspect in custody and to further find out if there is more than one suspect that they should be searching for.

The officer involved in the shooting is still in surgery, police report. He is listed as critical at the hospital. The off-duty officer was working as security at the Church of the Highlands satellite location. Chief Smith reports he was wearing a police uniform but was not wearing a protective vest.

Birmingham police officers are searching for two suspects, one who shot a police officer three times, police report.

Around 9:20 a.m., police received a call about a robbery near the 5400 block of Georgia Road. Once the officer arrived at the location of the incident, he confronted one of the suspects. That is when a suspect began to fire gunshots at the officer, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said in a brief news conference Sunday morning.

The police officer was shot twice in the stomach area and once in the arm, police say.

Two suspects fled the scene after the shooting and authorities are searching for them at this time. Birmingham police have marked off a perimeter in the area where they believe the suspects may be hiding.

There are multiple units involved in this investigation, including K9 and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Based on what police have gathered, Chief Smith says they believe the officer was able to return fire during the shooting, however it’s unclear if either of the suspects were struck by the gunfire.

Police were able to interview witnesses including the two individuals who were the victims of the robbery that initiated this officer-involved shooting. This remains under investigation.

The police officer injured in this shooting was off-duty working at the Church of the Highlands when he responded to the robbery. He has worked for the Birmingham Police Department since 2005. He was transported to the hospital and was conscious before going into surgery.

This is a developing story.