It turned out to be a difficult New Year’s Eve for law enforcement both here in the United States and in Canada.
In three separate incidents taking place in Calgary, Massachusetts, and South Carolina – one officer was shot and injured, another murdered, and another killed in a highway accident while responding to a call.
The Massachusetts incident specifically took place in the town of Springfield, when a state trooper was responding to a call for shots fired in the area of Stafford Street just before 11:20p.m. on December 31st.
BREAKING OVERNIGHT: A Mass. state trooper has been released from the hospital after being shot while responding to a call. https://t.co/IogOSxSX6W
— NBC10 Boston (@NBC10Boston) January 1, 2021
In a statement from state police, a Springfield Police officer also responded to the same area for the call. Upon arrival, officials say that two shots were fired directly at the officers’ cruisers.
One of the bullets penetrated the trooper’s vehicle, resulting in the bullet striking his leg.
EMS responded to the area after the nearby Springfield Police officer assisted the injured trooper.
The suspect initially fled the scene after the shooting, but was later apprehended and identified as 31-year-old Christopher Gardner. Authorities say that the suspect is now facing numerous charges related to the incident.
As for the trooper, he was treated at a nearby hospital and was released shortly thereafter. While officials have not identified the trooper injured by name, they did disclose that he’s 26-years-old and assigned to the State Police-Springfield Barracks.
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While that trooper survived said incident, the same cannot be said about a police sergeant who died in a vehicular accident in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Sgt. Gordon William Best was en route to a shots fired call on the evening of December 31st at the Barefoot Resort.
UPDATE from #GMC: A very sad morning for local law enforcement. This is 30-yr-old Sergeant Gordon William Best who was killed this morning in #NorthMyrtleBeach in a crash. My condolences to #NMBDPS. Highway 17 is still blocked at the scene. https://t.co/HUKkK4rAuM pic.twitter.com/WTq9Ni45E2
— Crystal Costa (@CrystalWPDE) January 1, 2021
However, when making his way over to the scene, Sgt. Best was said to have lost control of his vehicle while traveling down Highway 17. Patrick Dowling, the public information officer for the City of North Myrtle Beach, said that the incident was likely due to the roads being wet at the time.
Sgt. Best was traveling northbound on the highway when he collided with a utility pole. Sadly, the 30-year-old police sergeant was pronounced dead at the scene.
The fallen police sergeant had joined the North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Department on October 21st, 2013 – eventually getting promoted to the rank of sergeant back on February 17th, 2019.
According to Mayor Marilyn Hatley, Sgt. Best is the first North Myrtle Beach police officer to have ever lost his life in the line of duty.
Police Chief Tommy Dennis was tasked with informing Sgt. Best’s wife of his passing, calling it the “worst nightmare any spouse of a police officer or firefighter has.”
Local businesses in the area were shown paying tribute to the fallen police sergeant the day after his death, showcasing condolences in the saddening loss for the community and the department.
— Anjali Patel WPDE (@AnjaliPatelTV) January 1, 2021
The Sky Wheel in Myrtle Beach will be lighting blue in honor of Sgt. Best at 7:00 p.m. on January 1st, 2020.
While this fallen police sergeant’s death appears to accidental, the same cannot be said about a police sergeant in Calgary, Alberta.
On December 31st, Sgt. Andrew Harnett of the Calgary Police was said to have been struck and killed by a driver of a vehicle attempting to flee a traffic stop.
Such a sad thing to have happened. Our thoughts are with the members of Sgt. Harnett's family, friends, and colleagues. A horrible reminder of the dangers our police officers face in the line of duty every day. https://t.co/20FX6xCdiK
— Dr. Mary Ann Campbell ? ?? (@MaryAnnC_CCJS) January 1, 2021
According to officials, 17-year-old Al-Azan Shah Muhammad was behind the wheel at the time when Sgt. Harnett was killed. A passenger, identified as 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman, was also in the vehicle that killed Sgt. Harnett.
The incident was said to have occurred at approximately 10:50 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, within the area of Falconridge Boulevard and Falconridge Drive N.E.
A statement delivered by police said that Sgt. Harnett passed away at the hospital while being treated for his injuries at around midnight. The suspects were said to have been able to flee the scene of the murder.
Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld revealed that first-degree murder warrants have been issued for both Muhammad and Abdulrahman. A description of the vehicle operated by the suspects was said to be a copper-colored 2006 Infiniti FX with a small spare tire on the front passenger side.
Police also noted that the vehicle hosts noticeable hail damage as well.
According to a statement from the department, police in the area are doing all they can to track down the suspects in the murder of the police sergeant:
“There is a massive effort underway to locate and bring to justice those responsible for taking the life of one of our members…Dozens of sworn and civilian members are working around the clock tracking down each and every lead and these efforts will not stop.”
Sgt. Harnett had joined the Calgary Police Service 12 years ago, after having served as a military police officer. He’s reportedly the twelfth to have ever been killed in the line of duty for the CPS’ entire history – dating back to 1878.
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