(Reuters) - The killing of a U.S. police officer on Friday in a Houston suburb was unprovoked, a county sheriff said, saying the victim was a target because of his uniform.
"It appears to be clearly unprovoked," said Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman on Saturday, speaking of Friday's shooting of Darren Goforth at a gas station.
Sheriff's deputies on Saturday arrested Shannon Miles, 30, who will be charged with capital murder for the shooting, which Hickman said was captured on surveillance video.
Goforth, a 10-year veteran, was gassing up his patrol car when the gunman approached from behind, shot him in the back and shot him again as he lay on the ground, officials said.
Hickman linked the shooting to anti-police rhetoric following protests against deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white officers. Goforth was white, the suspect is black.
He said the department assumed Goforth was a target because he wore a uniform, and bluntly addressed protests against police violence and mass incarceration of blacks.
"We've heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well cops' lives matter too," Hickman said. "At any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen(s), this rhetoric has gotten out of control," said Hickman.
The fatal shooting comes eight months after two New York police officers were ambushed by a gunman who had said he wanted to avenge the deaths of black men in confrontations with police.
Hundreds of people attended a vigil on Saturday night.
"I wanted to demonstrate that all lives matter, regardless of color," Carol Hayes, an African American woman, told a local NBC News affiliate.
There have been 24 firearms-related deaths of law enforcement officers this year, compared with 30 during the same period in 2014, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy and Alex Dobuzinskis, editing by Chris Michaud and William Hardy)