A manhunt was underway across Texas on Monday for the unidentified man who fatally shot a San Antonio police officer Sunday, a bloody day for police officers across the nation.
Elsewhere Sunday, three police officers were wounded and two suspects killed in shootings in St. Louis and Gladstone, Mo., and Sanibel, Fla.
In San Antonio, Police Chief William McManus said the death of Detective Benjamin Marconi during an otherwise routine traffic stop near the police station was more than a random act.
"I feel we (police) were targeted," McManus said. "I think the uniform was the target."
James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said four attacks on officers in one day is another alarming a sign of the times. In July, five officers were killed in Dallas by a heavily armed sniper who opened fire at a peaceful protest against police-involved shootings. In Baton Rouge less than two weeks later, three officers were killed and three others wounded in an ambush.
Sunday's violence, however, involved four attacks by four attackers scattered across the nation.
Thankfully Gladstone officer shot tonight is expected to live. Not many more details but this is the best news we could have asked for.— KCFOP (@kcfop) November 21, 2016
Pasco says that, while no direct connection linking Sunday's shootings is apparent, social media spread information — often incorrect information — quickly and widely and can provoke action. Pasco says a drumbeat of criticism from the media, politicians and activists has eroded the esteem granted to law enforcement from the public.
"Police officers are doing their jobs the best they can, sometimes heroically, but now more than ever this kind of violence is in the back of their minds," Pasco told USA TODAY. "And when cops aren't safe, nobody is safe."
In San Antonio, McManus said Marconi, 50, was conducting a traffic stop outside police headquarters just before noon when he was shot in his car while writing a ticket. McManus said a black male with a goatee drove up in a Mitsubishi Galant, walked up to Marconi's car and shot the 20-year department veteran in the head before reaching in and shooting him again.
The shooter then drove off, McManus said. The driver of the vehicle who had been stopped had no role in the tragedy, McManus said.
McManus said the suspect briefly visited the police station four hours before the shooting, speaking to a desk clerk. McManus did not say what was discussed. He said the dashcam video provided "a lot of information," but he provided no details.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement asking everyone in Texas to pray for the Marconis' loved ones as they deal with "this unimaginable tragedy." Abbott urged the Legislature to pass his Police Protection Act, which would classify attacks against law enforcement as hate crimes.
"Attacks against law enforcement officers will not be tolerated in Texas and must be met with swift justice," Abbott said.
The San Antonio Police Department would like to take a moment to honor SAPD Detective Benjamin Marconi, who lost... https://t.co/m0BjHFiu31— SA Police Dept (@SATXPolice) November 20, 2016
Pasco agrees, and says his organization will press Congress in 2017 to add attacks on officers to the federal hate crimes statute.
"It should be wrong to attack somebody based on the color of their uniform," Pasco said.
In St. Louis, a 46-year-old police sergeant who was shot twice in the face Sunday evening was released from the hospital Monday, Chief Sam Dotson said. Dotson said the officer was sitting in his cruiser in traffic when he was shot by someone in a nearby car. The 19-year-old suspect was killed hours later in a shootout with officers. Dotson said the teen may have been connected to several robberies, a carjacking and a homicide.
In Gladstone, an officer was shot after a passenger ran from a car stopped for a traffic violation, according to Kansas City police, which handled the investigation. The suspect, described as a white male in his late teens, pulled out a gun and was killed in the ensuing shootout that left one officer wounded.
"Thanks to all for their prayers and calls of support," the Gladstone Police Department tweeted. "Our officer is out of surgery and is expected to make a full recovery following rehab."
In Florida, an officer was in his patrol car wrapping up a routine traffic stop at about 8 p.m. ET Sunday when he was shot by someone driving by. The city said on its website that the suspect was taken into custody a short time later after exchanging gunfire with police. The wounded officer was treated at a hospital and released.
"This is always difficult, especially in this day and age when police officers are being targeted across the country," McManus said. "It's everyone's worst nightmare. Unfortunately, like Dallas, like Baton Rouge, it has happened here now."
Contributing: KSDK-TV, St. Louis; KENS-TV, San Antonio; The News-Press, Fort Myers, Fla.