A police officer working undercover in south Alabama is recovering from surgery after a gun battle involving a motorcycle rider that also left the biker wounded, police said.
The officer was in plainclothes and part of an undercover narcotics operation when suspect Ryan Burkhardt, armed with a handgun, opened fire just before 3 a.m. Friday, Mobile Police Department spokesman Terence Perkins said.
Officers encountered Burkhardt on the motorcycle moments before he laid the bike down and began shooting at them, Perkins said. Perkins said officers at the scene returned fire, wounding the suspect. He said Burkhardt, 32, was in critical condition at a hospital.
The Mobile police officer was shot twice and underwent surgery, Perkins said. He said the officer is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery.
"The good news is that his family is here, and it appears that the officer will recover and we're certainly grateful for his service and our prayers are with him and his family," Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. He made the comments in a videotape released by his office Friday morning.
The shootout happened in a field between an Exxon service station and a truck stop in the Grand Bay area. The wounded officer is part of a special unit known as the Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team, which includes officers from several agencies.
"It's hard on us being that one of our own is shot and injured," Perkins said. "And especially the unit — they're taking it pretty hard. ... They work with him on a day-to-day basis."
The shooting comes amid increased scrutiny of police treatment of blacks after several high-profile deaths. Perkins said details about the officer and the suspect, including their races, weren't immediately available.
The Mobile department's homicide unit and its internal affairs unit will conduct separate investigations of the shooting, both of which will be reviewed by the district attorney's office, Perkins said.