Richmond police officer shot during traffic stop still critical, ‘fighting for her life,’ chief says

RICHMOND — UPDATE @ 9:07 p.m. (Aug. 11): Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton, shot and wounded during a traffic stop Wednesday night, remains in critical condition and is “showing slight signs of responsiveness,” Richmond Police Chief Michael Britt said in an update posted to social media Thursday night.

Officer Burton has not regained consciousness following surgery, the chief said, noting the officer was shot in the head.

>> RELATED: Shooting of Richmond police officer leaves city staggering

“As you could imagine, this event was traumatic to not only Off.[sic] Burton but to the many officers that responded to the scene to assist where they could. The critical injuring of our sister in blue was not easy to see. I have chosen to temporarily re-assign most officers involved with the incident to other duties, along with EAP to collect themselves,” Chief Britt said.

The city is well protected, he said, assuring residents they will have a police response when needed. Along with the Indiana State Police handling the scene and investigation, their command staff committed to assign a group of I.S.P. troopers to the city of Richmond to augment police department responses for the next few days, he said.

“If emergency services are needed, please don’t be surprised to see a trooper show up,” Chief Britt said. “Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter and his agency have committed personnel to the city as well to ensure total coverage of our citizen’s needs. The City of Richmond will still have abundant law enforcement while we sort things out,” he said.

Phillip Matthew Lee, 47, the accused shooter, remains in the Wayne County (Indiana) Jail on several charges involving guns and two counts of attempted murder.

FIRST REPORT (Aug. 10): A Richmond police officer remains in critical condition after she was shot during an traffic stop Wednesday night, the third area officer shot in the line of duty in less than a month. The suspected shooter was also shot and was hospitalized after the incident, according to investigators.

>> Richmond officer third local officer shot in line of duty in less than a month

Seara Burton, 28, and a four-year veteran of the Richmond Police Department, was identified as the officer shot Wednesday around 6:30 p.m. Burton was flown by medical helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital where she was listed in “very critical condition,” the Pendleton Post of Indiana State Police confirmed.

>> PHOTOS: Richmond police officer seriously hurt after being shot during traffic stop

“We need this community to pray for her. I ask that you pray for the officer,” Richmond Police Chief Michael Britt said said to News Center 7′s Brandon Lewis and other media gathered near the scene of the shooting Wednesday night.

Police say Burton was responding to a call from other officers to assist with a traffic stop in the area of North 12th Street and C Street. Burton located the vehicle, which was a moped being ridden by a man, and made a traffic stop at that location.

During the traffic stop, Burton’s K-9 partner was used to conduct an open-air sniff around the moped and indicated the possible presence of narcotics, according to police. The suspect was identified by police as 47-year-old Phillip Matthew Lee of Richmond.

>> Local law enforcement offers prayers to Richmond police officer shot during traffic stop

While officers were speaking with Lee, he allegedly pulled a firearm and fired several rounds toward officers, police said. Burton was struck by the gunfire.

Other officers on the scene returned fire and Lee ran, according to police. After a brief foot chase, Lee was apprehended and treated for gunshot wounds by the officers. He was later taken by ambulance to Reid Hospital in Richmond.

Lee is in custody and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office will determine charges upon review of the case, police confirmed.

ISP, which has taken over the investigation, does not know what led to the traffic stop, Indiana State Police Sgt. Scott Keegan said.

Chief Britt said there were a lot of facts yet to be determined, but noted, “it is not a common thing” for Richmond police officers to be shot in the line of duty.

He called Officer Burton, a K-9 handler, “a fine officer” who is engaged and was to be married, “I believe, next weekend.”

Mayor Dave Snow, who also attended the media briefing, said “this is a heavy evening in our community. [Officer Burton] has worked hard for this community.”

“This will not be tolerated,” he said of the shooting.

News Center 7 will continue updating this story as we learn more.

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