MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama police officer who was shot in a recent confrontation with a gunman who also wounded another officer died Saturday from his wounds, his department said.
Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner, 40, died at Huntsville Hospital where he was taken after Friday's shooting, Police Chief Ricky Terry said.
“We would like to thank the community and everyone who has prayed for Sgt. Risner, his family and the Sheffield Police Department during this time,” Terry said in a statement.
Authorities said at a news conference Friday evening that the officers werre shot after events that began when Brian Lansing Martin, 41, of Sheffield fatally shot and pushed an individual out of a vehicle in Muscle Shoals in northwest Alabama. That person has not been publicly identified, pending notification of next of kin.
After abandoning his victim, Martin stole another vehicle, according to authorities. Sheffield Police said their officers spotted the vehicle and chased Martin back into Muscle Shoals, behind a Walmart. There, Martin and law enforcement officers from multiple agencies exchanged gunfire, according to police.
During the confrontation, Risner and Sheffield police Lt. Max Dotson were shot. But Dotson was protected from severe injury by his vest and was treated and released from a hospital.
Risner was shot through the windshield of his vehicle.
Martin also was shot. He is listed in stable condition at Huntsville Hospital. Charges against Martin have not yet been filed.
Martin had previously served time for manslaughter in his father’s death in 2011. In that case, Martin pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years. Records show he was released in 2016.
Terry lamented the officer's death, saying it should not have happened.
“The justice system failed not only Sgt. Risner, but his family and everyone who has been affected by his passing,” Terry said. “This incident should have never happened, because a coward who should still be in prison was walking the streets. To lose an officer in the line of duty is a tragedy and there are just not enough words to express how saddened we are."
Risner served nine years with the Sheffield Police Department as a K-9 officer. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve for eight years. He is the second Alabama police officer to fall to hostile gunfire this year and at least the third to be shot in the line of duty in less than 24 hours this week. On Thursday, a police officer investigating drug sales in Warrior, Alabama was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot multiple times.
Risner is survived by his parents and a daughter.
"Sgt. Risner performed a heroic act by protecting the Shoals Community from the shooter from entering the Walmart parking lot. If the shooter would have entered the Walmart parking lot, there is no telling how many lives would have been in danger,” Terry said.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Risner was a hero who was senselessly killed.
“We often take for granted the safety of our neighborhoods and communities while — every minute of every day — heroes sworn to protect and serve us venture into harm’s way," Marshall said. “Sergeant Risner was such a hero. We live our lives in security because of the bravery and commitment of men like Sergeant Risner.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on the day of Risner's internment.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family, his fellow officers and his community,” Ivey said in the directive. “We also pray for the safety of all of our men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to ensure the protection of our communities.”