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Richmond, Va. Officer Killed

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July 30, 2003

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Richmond, Va. Officer Killed

Officer Down: Douglas E. Wendel - [Richmond, Virginia]

Richmond, Va. Times Dispatch

UPDATED 07/31/03 11:35 am

Richmond police have identified a "person of interest" in the shooting death of Officer Douglas E. Wendel.

Peter Lee Boone, 18, is being sought by authorities in connection with the shooting, but police won't say whether he is a suspect.

Officer Wendel was fatally shot in the neck and head last night while talking to a suspected drug dealer near East 33rd Street and Midlothian Turnpike in South Richmond.

Officer Douglas E. Wendel, 41, was the first city officer to die in the line of duty in nearly five years. He is the 28th Richmond officer killed while on duty.

He was pronounced dead at Medical College of Virginia Hos- pitals at 6:37 p.m., slightly more than an hour after he was shot.

At a news conference late last night, Police Chief Andre Parker would not say how many times Wendel was shot or whether he discharged his own firearm. But a police source said Wendel was shot twice, once at the base of the neck and once in the back of the head as he talked to a suspected drug dealer.

The shooter approached from the rear and fired twice, the source said, adding that Wendel did not have time to draw his weapon. Wendel had responded to the drug-deal call alone and in uniform.

After he was shot at 5:27 p.m., Wendel called for backup and he was helped into a patrol car. Soon after, he was transferred to an ambulance and rushed to MCV with more than a dozen po- lice escorts.

As darkness fell, dozens of city police officers and paramedics from the Richmond Ambulance Authority gathered outside MCV's emergency room entrance. Many officers, usually reserved, cried openly and hugged one another.

Wendel leaves behind a wife and three children - an 11-year-old son, a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son. He was going through a divorce and was engaged to be married again. Wendel was a native of New York, and his brother and parents live in Florida.

He was a five-year veteran of the Richmond Police Department.

Police have launched a manhunt for the shooter, with help from authorities in Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties. A witness described him as a black man, about 5-foot-9, wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans.

Police said he may have run on Midlothian toward Broad Rock Road. Tracking dogs were brought to the neighborhood to aid the search.

"We have very little information to go on at the present time," Parker said.

Early today, police were told to be on the lookout for a gold Acura that may have been involved in the shooting.

The Richmond City Council last night approved a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the suspect's arrest.

"This is a heinous crime," Parker said, his eyes swollen and moist with tears. "The killer needs to be apprehended, and I assure you he will be."

Midlothian Turnpike was closed to through traffic between Broad Rock and Roanoke Street for several hours while police combed the area for evidence.

East 33rd Street is a tree-lined street of modest single-story homes. Dozens of residents said they heard no shots fired.

Wendel made news in August 2000 when Officer Daniel S. Quinney allegedly slapped then-City Councilwoman Reva M. Trammell in front of Wendel, who was identified as her boyfriend at the time.

Trammell allegedly asked Wendel not to tell his superiors about her fight with Quinney. Trammell was subsequently indicted for violating the Richmond city charter by giving orders to a city employee, but prosecutors declined to pursue the matter.

The last time a Richmond police officer was killed in the line of duty was Oct. 14, 1998, when Officer Thomas F. "Mongo" McMahon was shot to death during a high-speed chase.

Grief counseling is available for city officers, Parker said, adding that Wendel's death is "difficult for them to understand."

More than 100 police officers, paramedics, firefighters and Red Cross volunteers packed into the city police training academy for last night's media briefing.

Mayor Rudolph C. McCollum Jr. said his prayers were with Wendel's family, the police department and the city.

"This particular act is truly a tragedy for our city," he said. "Officer Wendel represented law and order in our community."

City Manager Calvin D. Jamison also spoke.

"This is a very difficult time for the city of Richmond . . . but we must take back our streets," he said.

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