COLDWATER, Miss. (WMC) - A police officer is recovering after being shot in the head by someone who stopped where the officer was conducting a traffic stop Saturday.
Officials say the Coldwater Police officer, who has not been named, immediately yelled for the suspect who got out of a green truck to drop the knife he was holding.
Allegedly, the suspect went back into the truck and pulled out a shotgun.
Investigators say the officer's next actions protected the lives of two people inside the car he initially pulled over.
"He moved to the right and I’m of the opinion, and we’ll know more when we talk to him, that the reason he did this was to get those two people out of potential line of fire. And there was fire and they were not hurt,” said District Attorney John Champion.
Investigators say the suspect, a 22-year-old man from Tate County, fired the shotgun twice.
The officer was hit in the head but is ok and has been released from the hospital.
"Fate was on his side. That's all I can say. The good lord wasn't ready to take him today because the shots were fired at relatively close range,” said Champion.
Tate County District Attorney John Champion says the officer returned fire hitting the suspect twice.
The suspect then got back in the truck and drove a quarter of a mile away before crashing into a ditch. He is recovering in the hospital from emergency surgery.
"It really, really just shocking to see that,” said Terrance Jones, witness.
Terrance Jones works at a thrift store on Highway 51, right next to where the officer was shot.
He heard the officer yell at the suspect and saw the exchange of gunfire.
"Telling him, ‘stop, stop, stop.’ The suspect kept on going, going and got the shotgun and started shooting,” said Jones.
"From what it appears to me, is that the officer was a target of opportunity because he saw him on the side of the road,” said Champion.
Tate County Officials say this incident shows there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop.
"There really is no routine stop and you have to watch your surroundings, and this the perfect example, it speaks to that,” said Coldwater Police Chief Undra Todd.
"It just gives you a better appreciation of what these officers have to face on a day-to-day basis out there on the street,” said Champion.
Officials say they don't know why the suspect shot at the officer. They are hoping he survives his injuries and can be questioned by investigators.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has taken the role of lead investigating agency for this officer-involved shooting.