(Reuters) - A New Orleans housing authority police officer was found shot to death as he sat inside a patrol car near a construction site, officials said on Sunday, in a fresh reminder of the dangers of working in law enforcement in the United States.
Police responded just after 7 a.m. to a radio call from the Housing Authority of New Orleans reporting a patrolman had been shot, police said in a statement.
The officer, 45, was on patrol near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints, and was believed to have been shot while inside his marked patrol car, which had come to a stop after striking a curb, police said.
"After the officer was shot, his marked unit rolled forward and came to a stop at the intersection," New Orleans Police Department spokesman Garry Flot said, adding that the department was "investigating the murder."
The officer, whose name was not released pending notification of his family, had been a member of the Housing Authority department since 2013.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called Sunday's slaying "an unspeakable tragedy, and a vile and cowardly act."
"Tragedies that involve our men and women in uniform affect our entire city and touch every member of our law enforcement community," Landrieu said.
The officer's death follows the killing of three New York City patrolmen in two separate incidents that highlighted the risks taken by police, even as U.S. law enforcement faces a storm of criticism over its treatment of African Americans and other minorities.
In May, a 25-year-old member of an elite plainclothes anti-crime unit was shot in the head while sitting with his partner in a patrol car in the borough of Queens.
In December, two uniformed officers were ambushed and fatally shot in an attack by a man who said he wanted to avenge the deaths of two unarmed black men in encounters with white officers in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York's Staten Island.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Eric Walsh)