On Friday night, a state highway patrol barracks in Dunmore, Pennsylvania was ambushed, leaving one state trooper dead and another injured. A three-state manhunt is still underway, and State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said the attack seemed to be only directed at state police.
“Our troopers were … shot without warning and really had no chance to defend themselves,” Noonan said over the weekend. “It has touched us to the core that such a thing could happen.”
One “person of interested” has been detained, but has not been charged in connection to the incident.
“We can’t say that the situation is completely in hand,” Noonan said.
Attacks of this style against the police have seen a dramatic rise in recent years. In 2011, USA Today review showed that “nearly 40 percent of officer deaths were from ambush attacks, up from 31 percent two years earlier,” the Christian Science Monitor reported.
Last year, there was a series of ambushes targeted towards members of the justice system: a judge, prosecutor, and prison warden were killed in these type of attacks. Last week Nickolaus Schultz, an officer in Merrillville, Indiana, “was shot and killed in an apparent ambush attack by a man who subsequently killed himself.”
While attacks of this type are not as frequent as they were in the 1970s, their recent increase is still troubling and might point to an overall distrust and lack of respect for police and the justice system as a whole.
“When respect goes up, the attacks go down,” former FBI chief Tom Fuentes told CNN last year, according to the Monitor.
After a summer where police activity came under heavy scrutiny, it’s not hard to see the logic behind Fuentes’ statement, even if it doesn’t apply in the Dunmore case.
Amy is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @AEddings31.