DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver police officer was shot multiple times and in critical condition following a violent confrontation during a traffic stop on Federal Boulevard late Tuesday morning. Doctors had to replace his entire blood supply because he lost so much blood.
The traffic stop happened just after 11:20 a.m. near the intersection of 37th and Federal Boulevard. Multiple shots were exchanged between the officer, identified as Antonio Lopez Jr., and the suspect or suspects. One suspect was injured and apprehended.
It’s believed possibly two other suspects are at large.
“The officer is currently in critical condition. He is in the operating room,” said Dr. Christopher Colwell of Denver Health Medical Center. “His condition has stabilized for the moment. I’m cautiously optimistic. He’s in the right place, this is what we do.”
Lopez was out of surgery by 5 p.m.
“He was about as close to dying as you can get from blood loss. And again if those paramedics wouldn’t have put the tourniquet on his leg, he might not have survived,” said Denver Health Surgeon Dr. Gene Moore.
When asked how many blood transfusions the officer had, Moore replied, “His entire blood volume.”
Denver Police Chief Robert White said Lopez Jr. was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
The traffic stop happened just before a carjacking that took place on West 38th Avenue near USBank.
Police initially believed the carjacking happened before the traffic stop.
“The officer made the traffic stop unbeknownst of the other incident that had occurred,” White said. “He did not have any idea who he was stopping at the time and what they would have been involved in if in fact they were involved in the prior (incident).”
An employee of a Carquest auto parts store near the traffic stop told CBS4 they saw a police cruiser with gunshots in it at the scene and saw the officer on the ground after the shots rang out. An employee at Federal Liquors right next to the crime scene also said they were rattled when the shots rang out.
Soon after the shooting police captured the injured suspect at 20th Street at Chestnut Place, just west of Coors Field.
“We did spot a vehicle that was leaving the area at a high rate of speed. We did contact that vehicle at 20th and Chestnut,” said Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson. “At that location we found one party inside that vehicle who was suffering from a leg injury.”
The suspect’s condition was described as being fair.
A group of schools in the area were in lockout mode for several hours due to the police activity.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made this statement about Officer Lopez: “We have received good news that Officer Lopez is out of surgery. Myself, my family and all of Denver are sending our thoughts and prayers to him and his family at this critical time. Officer Lopez and his family have given so much to this city and now they need us. I thank all the officers, first responders and amazing medical staff who came to his aid today. We are grateful to you all and hopeful for Officer Lopez’s recovery.”