Officers under attack: Man arrested after allegedly opening fire on police helicopter

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SAN DIEGO, CA – Officers from the San Diego Police Department apprehended a man on March 13th who is suspected of firing two rounds at a SDPD helicopter that evening.

Lt. Andra Brown of the SDPD stated that at around 10:15 p.m. on March 13th, reports came in of a suspected burglar located near the 6300 block of Electric Avenue.

A local resident described that a man in possession of a rifle was at their front door, frantically banging on it while making unintelligible statements.

In response to the call, police had deployed a helicopter to get a birds-eye view of the area where the incident was reported. That’s when the suspect, 46-year-old David Lowe, fired a shot toward the helicopter circling above him, according to police.

Lt. Brown detailed the reaction of the pilot after the first shot came in their direction:

“Fearing for their safety, the pilot climbed to a higher altitude and broadcast his actions.”

After creating distance, police say that the suspect fired another round toward the helicopter.

Units on the ground arrived at the scene, and arrested Lowe without any further incident.

The police lieutenant noted that aside from the rifle allegedly used by Lowe to fire at the helicopter, more weapons were discovered in his possession:

“In addition to the rifle he used to shoot at (the police helicopter), officers recovered a shotgun, other firearms and several rounds of ammunition.”

Jail records show that Lowe was booked into the San Diego Central Jail under 2 counts of attempted murder first-degree, three counts of assault with a firearm on person, battery on a police officer, illegal discharge of a firearm, and shooting at a vehicle or dwelling.

Lowe is scheduled for his first court appearance on March 18th.

Speaking of officers being shot at, we’d recently provided an update about an attempted murder of a police officer that happened in Birmingham, Alabama. 

The attorney tasked with defending a juvenile accused of shooting at a police officer is claiming that the defendant requires psychological evaluations, citing that his client “has mental issues and needs help.”

Jahmari Wright is the 16-year old charged with shooting narcotics detective John Finke on January 26th this year. Wright made an appearance in court on March 12th for a bond hearing, where his bail was set at $500,000.

Prosecutors in the case alleged that Wright had robbed a couple at gunpoint while they were making their way over to the Church of the Highlands in Woodlawn. The couple who was robbed reported the incident to Detective Finke, who happened to be working security for the church at the time.

Detective Finke located the suspects of the robbery, and prosecutors allege that Wright began firing a gun toward the detective until the weapon had jammed. Detective Finke was reportedly shot three times during the incident.

It was further alleged that Wright stated that he “started a war” with regard to the incident.

During the bail hearing, the defendant’s attorney wasn’t in dispute with what the prosecution alleged to have happened, but thinks that there’s something mentally-awry with Wright:

“He has mental and emotional issues. No one would have done what he did, and say and give the details that he did. It was like he was playing a video game.”

The defense also asked to court to take into account certain factors revolving around the incident, including his client’s age.

Despite being 16, the state charged Wright with attempted murder and are trying him as an adult.

On top of the attempted murder charge, Wright is also facing charges for first-degree robbery. A second suspect, 25-year old Chris Burke, is alleged to have played a part in the January robbery as well and was charged to first-degree robbery.

In early February, after undergoing multiple surgeries, the detective was released from the UAB Hospital.

He was last reported as recovering from the surgeries at home and is engaged in physical therapy. Certainly, a positive update, as when we reported on this in January, things weren’t looking very good for Detective Finke.

Here’s the original story we ran on January 26th this year: 

Today we have sad news out of Birmingham, Alabama.  An off-duty officer, Birmingham Police Department narcotics Detective John Finke, was shot this morning and is said to be in critical condition, currently fighting for his life in the ICU following emergency surgery.

Detective Finke was working as security at Church of the Highlands.  Around 9am this morning, a call of a robbery came in near his location. 

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CA officials say this man murdered two fellow inmates with a cane. They were both child molesters.

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said Detective Finke “may have observed the robbery in progress.”  Chief Smith said that Detective Finke “was able to give a description of the suspect, clothing description and things of that nature.”

Detective Finke called a code 1033 on the radio, which there means “officer needs all possible assistance.”

Detective Finke confronted the suspects alone.  They responded by shooting at him. 

The detective was hit twice in the stomach and once under the arm, however the injury under the arm was discovered to be a ricochet rather than a direct hit.    It’s been reported that Detective Finke returned fire, but it doesn’t appear as if either of the suspects were hit.

A lengthy manhunt ensued, where police locked down the area while going door to door to track down witnesses.  Eventually two suspects were taken into custody in the parking lot of a nearby Winn Dixie.

Officers were able to locate them by tracking the cell phones they stole during the robbery.  Both suspects were male; one is 16-years-old, one is 25-years-old. 

At least one handgun was recovered from the suspects at that time as well.  The accused shooter is the 16-year-old suspect.

The victims of the robbery positively identified the above men as the robbery suspects.  The recovered handgun also matches the caliber that Detective Finke was shot with, based on the shell casings discovered at the scene.

Detective Finke was taken to the hospital.  He was not wearing a bullet proof vest.  Reports say that he was in uniform, but it’s unclear whether that is his police uniform or a security guard uniform for the church.

Chief Smith said the detective was hit in “vital organ areas.”  He has already undergone one surgery this morning, and will be heading into another one this afternoon.  Doctors are concerned about the amount of blood lost during the incident.

The Chief appeared during a press conference earlier today, saying:

“Each and every day we deal with circumstances and it’s very disappointing someone this age would go to such great lengths.  It’s one of those difficult things to take in.”

Detective Finke has a wife and a daughter, who are there at the hospital with him.  It’s been reported that his extended family is flying into the area today as well.  Detective Finke has been with Birmingham PD since 2005.

The incident is being investigated as an officer involved shooting by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation.  Officers from all four of the city’s precincts responded to the call, and the US Marshalls and ATF also responded to assist.

Chief Smith said during the press conference:

“They do have some concerns because he did lose a lot of blood and has been given a lot of blood. We’re praying very hard for him. It’s like pins and needles trying to wait to get accurate information.

We’re still getting a lot of information in right now. We’re searching for video in the area so we can put that information out.”

In 2018 and 2019, Birmingham Police were able to take 4,000 guns off the streets.  Even so, Chief Smith said:

“There’s always that one time that one moment where things like this happen.  We just have to do more to be prepared, do more as far as our training, and do more to make sure that our officers are completely alert, completely aware of what is happening.”

“My heart goes out and I care for every single officer on this department,” the Chief continued.  “I want to see them work safely, be supported and make sure that they go home safely each day. 

We do everything that we can to make sure they are completely trained and prepared for the job that they are sworn to do.”

Six officers were killed in the line of duty in Alabama in 2019.

US Attorney Jay Town reacted to the shooting on Twitter, saying:

“PRAYERS NEED NOW!

It is just incredible the ease with which criminals in America graduate so quickly to extreme violence, especially against our brave men and women in law enforcement. Our thoughts are with the officer. Our sights are on finding the shooter! #EnoughIsEnough”

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