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Mesquite community shaken by officer being shot

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Updated: 3/21/2013 9:13 pm
A police officer and a gunman were wounded during a shootout in a parking lot in Mesquite today. It happened in front of a fast food restaurant around 7:45 this morning. The shooting shattered the normal early morning quiet in that small town. News 3's Sandra Gonzalez picks up the story from Mesquite.

MESQUITE, Nev. -- Police say a Mesquite police officer and a man were both wounded in a shootout. It happened Thursday morning just before 8 o’clock at shopping center on Sandhill Road.

Misty Lucas was walking her dogs when the quiet shopping center across the street became chaotic.

She describes what happened when police approached a car parked near a ‘Jack In the Box’.

“I saw him grab the gun at the police officer and then he shot the officer and the police officer told him to hold down, and hold still and he would not hold still, and he was fighting with the police officer,” Lucas said.

She says she was frightened.

“It scared me. I thought he'd come over and shoot me and my dogs,” Lucas said.
Her husband was behind her.

“The guy got paranoid and shot cop in the leg and the cop shot him and a bunch of cop cars came in and you couldn't see,” said Daniel Lucas.

The officer was wounded in the leg. The man was also wounded.

“Suspect fired at least one round. Both officer and detective returned fire who were on the scene,” said Mesquite Police Chief Troy Tanner.

Police have identified the officer who was hurt as Craig Empey; the other officer as Gary Erickson. Both were placed on routine paid administrative leave.

Empey was taken to a local hospital and was treated and released.

A police officer and a gunman were wounded during a shootout in a parking lot in Mesquite today. It happened in front of a fast food restaurant around 7:45 this morning. The shooting shattered the normal early morning quiet in that small town. News 3's Sandra Gonzalez picks up the story from Mesquite.

The suspect was airlifted to UMC. His identity and condition have not been released.
Meanwhile police have been questioning a woman who was also in the car.

The Mesquite police chief has called in Metro to take over the investigation for transparency, and crime scene investigated combed the shooting scene for hours as members of the community stared behind the police tape.

“This is a small community and to have an officer shot like this is sad,” said resident Christine Porter.

Kaite Oliver who works at a salon was surprised by the commotion too, when she showed up for work.

“To see that many cops that early and for the caution tape to be up, we don't see a lot of that happen here,” Oliver said.

Police are investigating another possible arrest nearby that may be connected to this shooting.

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