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Published: Monday, 12/17/2012

2 police officers fatally shot in Topeka

Officers shoot, kill suspect after 2-hour standoff

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Officer Jeff Atherly, left, 29, and Cpl. David Gogian, 50, were fatally shot outside a Topeka grocery store Sunday while responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, authorities said. Officer Jeff Atherly, left, 29, and Cpl. David Gogian, 50, were fatally shot outside a Topeka grocery store Sunday while responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, authorities said.
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TOPEKA, Kan. — Two police officers were fatally shot as they investigated a suspicious vehicle in the Kansas state capital, and a suspect in the killings is dead after a nearly two-hour armed standoff, authorities said Monday.

Topeka Police Chief Ronald Miller said a gunman opened fire on Cpl. David Gogian, 50, and Officer Jeff Atherly, 29, from inside the vehicle at around 6 p.m. Sunday. Miller said the man shot both officers in the head.

Following a tip, authorities surrounded a nearby house where a 22-year-old suspect was holed up early Monday and, after negotiations failed, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents fired tear gas inside. The Shawnee County sheriff's office, which is leading the investigation, said the man emerged from the home with a gun and officers opened fire.

The suspect, whom police have not named, was declared dead at a hospital. The sheriff's office said it's not clear whether the man fired at officers.

Police Chief Ronald Miller said the suspect had a criminal record but he didn't elaborate. He said he didn't know why the suspect fired on the police officers in the incident outside a grocery store.

“I don't believe they (the police officers) had any idea this situation was going to go this direction as quickly as it did,” Miller told reporters at a Sunday news conference.

A third officer at the scene was not hurt and other people in the vehicle at the time of the shootings are not considered suspects, Miller said.

Authorities said they later found the vehicle abandoned about a mile from the grocery store and a few blocks east of the where the suspect eventually was found.

Officials released few details about the shootings and haven't said why the vehicle was considered suspicious or other details about the shooting.

“It's clearly beyond words,” Miller said. “It's unspeakable almost about why this happens and why this is happening in America at this stage in our history.”

The last time a Topeka officer was killed in the line of duty was 2000, and it's been longer than that — since 1995 — that one was fatally shot on the job.

Gogian had served with the police since September 2004 and had an adult son who's also a Topeka police officer. Atherly joined the department in April 2011.

A small crowd met for a candlelight vigil Sunday night outside police headquarters after hearing about the shooting. As the group gathered, police officials announced to reporters nearby that the officers had died.

Miller said Gogian was a retired military serviceman.

“He had spent his life in service to his country and in the city of Topeka,” the chief said.

Atherly was “just getting started” in his career, Miller said.



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