A veteran Mesquite police officer was shot and wounded while exchanging gunfire with a suspect during a traffic stop Thursday morning.
The officer and a detective were conducting a stop of a 1996 Geo Metro about 7:50 a.m. on Sandhill Boulevard near Interstate 15, at one of Mesquite’s major intersections, when the man fired at them, police said.
Police returned fire, hitting the man twice.
The injured officer, Craig Empy, suffered a single gunshot wound in the leg. He was later treated and released from Mesa View Regional Hospital in Mesquite, police said.
The gunman, who was hit twice, was transported by helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas. His condition was not immediately known. Police hadn’t identified the suspect, who is from Utah, as of late Thursday afternoon.
Empy, 43, has worked for the Mesquite Police Department since June 2006 and is assigned to the patrol division. The detective involved in the shooting is Gary Erickson, 44, who has worked for the Police Department since May 1999.
Also inside the Geo Metro, which had Utah license plates, was an unnamed woman.
About 20 minutes before the shooting, another man was arrested on an unspecified felony warrant tied to an earlier investigation at the Green Valley Grocery, 290 N. Sandhill Blvd., police said That man wasn’t identified by police.
Police Chief Troy Tanner said there appears to be a connection between that first arrest and the shooting, but didn’t offer any details.
Following the arrest, at about 7:45 a.m., Empy and Erickson responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle at the Bowler Plaza. They approached the car, the driver got out of the vehicle and brandished a handgun, police said.
“The suspect fired at least one round,” Tanner told reporters in a press conference. “Both the officer and the detective returned fire, striking the suspect.”
Tanner said he didn’t know whether the suspect was shot by both Empy and Erickson.
The woman, 48, also from Utah, wasn’t injured. She was detained by police at the city jail for questioning, police spokesman Jeff Smith said. Her name and hometown weren’t made public. Smith described her as cooperative and said she wasn’t charged with a crime.
Tanner said it’s not the first time a Mesquite police officer has been involved in a shooting, but as far as he knew no other Mesquite officers have been shot in the line of duty.
“We’re really thankful for that,” he said.
Las Vegas police are handling the shooting investigation.
Empy and Erickson were both placed on routine paid administrative leave during the investigation, Mesquite police officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Kent Harper, editor of the Mesquite Local News, contributed to this report. Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0264. Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal. com or 702-455-4519.