Shots fired at law enforcement up more than 70 percent
A Sunday-morning shooting that left an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper wounded was the latest in a growing number of incidents in which Oklahoma law enforcement officers have found themselves under fire.
Trooper Austin Ellis was wounded after Arturo DeJesus Ramirez, 26, reportedly fired several shots at him during a traffic stop about 12:30 a.m. Sunday outside a hotel along U.S. 183 in Woodward. A bullet that struck Ellis' protective vest broke a rib.
At a news conference Monday, patrol Chief Michael Harrell said Ramirez was arrested about 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Ellis was recovering at OU Medical Center in good condition.
According to the 2017 Crime in Oklahoma report compiled by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, there were 68 assaults on police officers involving firearms last year. That number is a 72 percent increase from 2016, when there there 40 incidents in which shots were fired at law officers. In 2015, there were only 32 such incidents, according to the report.
Last year in Oklahoma, two law officers were killed by gunfire. Tecumseh Police officer Justin Terney was fatally shot March 26 during an exchange of gunfire after a late-night traffic stop. Less than a month later, on April 18, Logan County sheriff's deputy David Wade, 40, was gravely wounded while serving an eviction notice. Wade died later that day on the operating table at OU Medical Center.
A total of 946 assaults occurred last year on law officers, including 217 that resulted in injury, according to the OSBI. Those numbers exclude Washington County in northeast Oklahoma, which didn't submit numbers for the OSBI report.
The number of firearm-related incidents was not available by county, OSBI spokeswoman Jordan Solorzano said.
Oklahoma and Tulsa counties saw the vast majority of those 2017 assaults. Oklahoma County law officers reported 243 assaults, and 193 were reported in Tulsa County, according to the OSBI.
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Oklahoma City police reported 196 of the 243 assaults in Oklahoma County. From January through April this year, there were 58 assaults on officers in the city.
Midwest City police Sgt. Bruce Glover was among several law officers who were fired upon while serving a warrant just after sunrise in May. A bullet broke the glass in the window next to him.
"I saw the shot actually break the glass and come through the window," Glover said.
The bullet hit no one, he said.
Glover and two officers were creating a distraction by breaking a bedroom window and detonating a flash-bang grenade inside while others headed in through the front door.
Glover's job was to break a portion of the window and rake out the glass. Another officer was there to move the window dressings aside. The third man was tasked with poking the flash-bang grenade on a pole and detonating it, he said.
Right after the grenade went off, the bullet whizzed through another windowpane.
The man accused of firing the shot at Glover and his fellow officers was identified as Anthony Dewayne Hill, 52. He was arrested on a number of complaints, including assault with a deadly weapon, police said. Hill has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the incident, Oklahoma County court records show.
"It wasn't really emotional or anything like that, but it's kind of a reality check," Glover said. "We've done this numerous times and nobody has shot at us."
Contributing: Robert Medley, staff writer