Kalamazoo police officer killed in the line of duty

Apr 19, 2011

Update 12:00 p.m.

Wood TV is carrying the press conference of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety live.

The slain officer was identified as Eric Zapata a 10 year veteran of the force. He had three children.

The police chief was visibly emotional when identifying Zapata as the officer who lost his life.

It was the first time the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety has lost an officer in the line of duty.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said the loss has shaken the department:

"We're a small group... We have to look out for each other. You become very close.. and when things like this happen, it hits hard."

9:31 a.m.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety issued a press release this morning:

April 18th, 2011, at approximately 11:18 p.m., Kalamazoo Public Safety officers were dispatched to the 1400 block of Hays Park on a report of shots fired.

A preliminary investigation indicates that responding officers encountered a man standing on the porch of a home and the officer asked if he had heard any gun shots in the area.  The man, a 31-year-old citizen of Kalamazoo, advanced towards the officer, brandished a handgun and an exchange of gunfire occurred between the suspect and the initial arriving officer. The suspect then ran between houses located on Hays Park.  Within mere seconds, officers heard a second round of gunfire. The suspect had confronted a second officer wherein the officer was shot and killed in the line of duty.  The suspect died at the scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

The investigation into this incident will be completed by the Criminal Investigations Division and the Office of Professional Standards. No further information regarding this investigation will be released until the afternoon of Tuesday, April 19th, 2011.

Kalamazoo Public Safety request prayers for the officer’s family, loved ones and members of our Department in the aftermath of this tragedy.