05/22/2006

Plainclothes officer killed by fellow officer while responding to gunshot report

Related officer down: Va. officer shot and killed by fellow officer

The Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va.--A Norfolk police officer in plain clothes was shot and killed by another officer after responding to a call about a disturbance, and the Virginia State Police have been asked to conduct the investigation, police said Monday.

Seneca Darden, 25, was killed in the shooting at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, police spokesman Chris Amos said. Darden was a four-year veteran of the force and the nephew of one-time interim police chief Shelton L. Darden, who retired last year.

The identity of the officer who fired the fatal shots has not been released, but police said he has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

At a news conference Monday, police chief Bruce Marquis said officers responded to a call about a shooting at about 11:15 p.m. and found a man who had been shot. He was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and a suspect was quickly apprehended.

At the scene, officers were told of another shooting victim inside a home, and the first officers on the scene reported a large crowd outside and requested backup.

Among the officers responding was Darden, who was in a white T-shirt and jeans because he was working on a burglary detail in another part of the city, Marquis said.

When police saw Darden in plain clothes and holding a handgun, they told him to drop the weapon. One of the officers then opened fire, hitting Darden several times.

He died a short time later at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

"I realize that no words can ... adequately convey the grief and anguish felt by Officer Darden's family, friends and fellow officers," Marquis said at the news conference, his voice nearly breaking. "I do however wish to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Officer Seneca Darden. I would ask that we all keep this family in our thoughts and prayers as they deal with Seneca's tragic death."

Marquis said it was unclear why Darden reported to the scene.

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