Police say officers have been targeted in Tennessee, Missouri and Georgia in the aftermath of two high-profile killings of black men by law enforcement officials.
In Tennessee, a man accused of shooting indiscriminately at passing cars and police on a Tennessee highway told investigators he was angry about police violence against African-Americans, authorities said Friday.
One woman died and three others, including one police officer, were injured in the rampage early Thursday morning.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that initial conversations with the suspect, 37-year-old Lakeem Keon Scott, revealed he was troubled by several incidents across the U.S.
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Scott, who is black, was wounded in the shootout with police, remains hospitalized and has not yet been charged. All those shot were white, police confirmed.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation alleges Scott — armed with an assault rifle, a pistol and a large amount of ammunition — fired shots through the window of the Days Inn on Volunteer Parkway.
Meanwhile, a suburban St. Louis police officer was "ambushed" during a traffic stop Friday and injured critically after he was shot at least once from behind as he walked to his patrol car, authorities said.
Antonio Taylor, a 31-year-old black man who was paroled in 2015 after serving time on a weapons charge, was charged with assault of a police officer, armed criminal action and a felon in possession, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said Friday at a news conference.
Taylor is being held on $500,000 cash bond and is expected to be arraigned on the felony charges Monday morning.
Authorities have not provided the race and identify of the officer, who was described as a 9-year law enforcement veteran.
Also Friday, a man who called 911 to report a car break-in ambushed a south Georgia police officer dispatched to the scene, sparking a shootout in which both the officer and suspect were wounded, authorities said. Both are expected to survive.
The shooting in Valdosta, just north of the Georgia-Florida state line, happened hours after five police officers were killed Thursday night in an ambush in Dallas. Despite saying the officer was lured to the scene by the gunman, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said there was no immediate evidence the shootings were related.
"We're putting pieces together to understand what happened and why, developing witnesses," said Scott Dutton, spokesman for the GBI, which is handling the case at the request of local police. "There's nothing to indicate there's a connection to that."
Officer Randall Hancock was shot multiple times as he responded to a 911 call about a car break-in outside the Three Oaks Apartments just after 8 a.m. Friday, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress said at a news conference.
"The officer called out on the radio screaming for assistance," Childress said, and officers from multiple law enforcement agencies swarmed the apartment complex.
The GBI later identified the suspected gunman as 22-year-old Stephen Paul Beck and said it was Beck who also placed the 911 call. Both Childress and Dutton identified the suspect as an Asian male. Charges against Beck were still pending Friday as he was being treated at a Florida hospital, Dutton said.
The officer is white, according to Valdosta city spokeswoman Sementha Mathews.
Dutton said one gunshot hit the officer in the abdomen, just below his protective vest. Other shots hit Hancock's vest. The officer fired back and wounded the suspect.
Hancock underwent surgery at a local hospital and was stable Friday as he rested with his family by his side, Childress said. The suspect was also considered stable, he said.
"I'm relieved that my officer is fine," Childress said. "I am also equally relieved that the offender is going to make it."
The police chief said Hancock was wearing a body camera, and its video footage had been turned over to the GBI.
Childress declined to comment on any possible motive when asked about his officer being shot so soon after the Dallas attacks. The Dallas officers were shot during a protest over the recent killings of black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana.
"You start to wonder," the police chief said. "But any motive of why this happened this morning, it would be speculation."