Police Officer Shooting First In 20 Years In Wilmington - FOX 35 News Orlando

Police Officer Shooting First In 20 Years In Wilmington

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Police tape surrounds the crime scene Saturday where a Wilmington police officer was shot. Police tape surrounds the crime scene Saturday where a Wilmington police officer was shot.
Wilmington, DE -

Police in Wilmington, Delaware, are searching for a third suspect involved in the near-fatal shooting of a city police officer.  Two other young men are in custody, after a Sunday afternoon traffic stop turned violent.

Thirty-four-year-old Justin Wilkers nearly gave his life doing his job.  The three-year police veteran now has a bullet lodged in the back of his skull, after a gunman shot him in the face.  Vernon Ross lives across the street from where the shooting occurred, in Wilmington's Southbridge neighborhood. Ross told Fox 29 he hear, "Pop pop pop, four real quick shots, it was four fast shots.  I jumped straight up."

The shooting happened just before 4 p.m.  Officer Wilkers and his partner spotted a suspicious vehicle at C and South Buttonwood Streets.  When they tried to pull the driver over a couple of blocks away, the car took off.  The chase ended on the 1200 block of Peach Street, when the three suspects in the car got out and ran.  "As one of the suspects exited the vehicle, he drew a handgun and fired at Officer Wilkers, who was attempting to exit the police vehicle," Cpl. Mark Ivey, a spokesman for the Wilmington Police Department, explained.

Police arrested two of the suspects shortly after the shooting:  the driver, 20-year-old Jared Wiggins, and his passenger, 21-year-old Ronald Boyce.  But they're still searching for the other passenger.  Police won't say which of the three shot Wilkers.  

This is the first time in 20 years a Wilmington police officer has been shot in the line of duty, and clearly it has rattled the department.  "The past 24 hours have been difficult and extremely painful," Cpl. Ivey said.  His boss, Police Chief Christine Dunning, made clear her disgust.  "This assault on our police officer Justin Wilkers is an affront, an insult and a total sign of disrespect of authority."

Wilkers is married with a daughter and a son, both under the age of five.  He's expected to undergo surgery and is facing a long road to recovery.  "We are very fortunate that we still have our brother officer with us today," Chief Dunning said.  "However, Justin Wilkers' condition, even thought it's been stabilized, he still has many challenges to face."

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