CINCINNATI — A gunfight erupted on a city street Friday between a suspect and police responding to a 911 call about an erratic armed man, killing a longtime officer and the suspect.
Officer Sonny Kim, a decorated 27-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department, died along with the suspect in the shooting shortly before 9:30 a.m. in the Madisonville neighborhood, Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said. Both died at a Cincinnati hospital.
“Our hearts are broken,” Blackwell said, choking back tears at a news conference Friday afternoon. “We lost a brother.”
Details of the gunfight and what preceded it are sketchy. Blackwell said some sort of struggle broke out in the street.
“We’re not sure which officers involved actually fired rounds,” Blackwell said earlier Friday. “We’re not sure how many rounds were fired. We just know that multiple shots were fired between the suspect and responding officers.”
Kim, 48, leaves behind a wife and three sons. He was wearing body armor during the shooting.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Kim graduate from Carl Schurz High School on the Northwest Side in 1984 and moved on to Truman College in Uptown in 1984 and ’85 before moving to Cincinnati.
“Today is a tragic day for all Cincinnatians,” Mayor John Cranley said in a statement.
Blackwell would not release the identity or any details about the suspect.
The shooting comes nine days after Cincinnati police released a plan for dealing with a recent surge of gun violence in the city. The police chief said then that shootings were up 28 percent over last year.
Police said Kim grew up in Chicago and moved to Cincinnati in 1986 to attend classes at the University of Cincinnati. He was appointed as a Cincinnati police recruit and assigned to the police academy in 1987.
Kim was promoted to the rank of police officer in 1988, receiving 22 commendations in his career.
“CPD lost one of our best today,” Blackwell said.
Officers consoled one another at the shooting scene and at the news conference later at the police department.
Kim’s supervisor, Capt. Jeff Butler, spoke briefly at the news conference while struggling to control his emotions.
“Sonny Kim was the consummate policeman,” Butler said.
Ohio Fraternal Order of Police President Jay McDonald said in a statement that the group’s 25,000 members joined Cincinnati police in mourning Kim.
“This is just the latest chilling reminder of how dangerous police work is and how police are targeted for violence,” he said.
LISA CORNWELL, Associated Press