South Bend's police chief is asking the community to pray for Corporal Ray Wolfenbarger. Wolfenbarger was working his beat when he was shot trying to make a traffic stop on South Bend's southwest side early this morning. The 27-year-old officer has been on the force just four years. He has a wife and young daughter.
Routine stop gone bad
Around 1:30 Sunday morning Wolfenbarger decided to stop a car that was driving slowly with no headlights. A four-block chase ended when the suspects' car hit a telephone pole. “The officer approached the car, announced who he was with lights and sirens going and with his gun drawn. He got to the side of the car and he was shot three times from the assailant in the car,” says Michael Swanson, Commander of Special Crimes.
Corporal Ray Wolfenbarger was wearing a bullet proof vest. Nonetheless, his injuries are life threatening. He has undergone six hours of surgery and had 35 units of blood but he is still fighting for his life. Bennett says that three surgeons scrubbed in during surgery. Doctors say that the next 24 to 48 hours will determine Wolfenbarger’s fate.
Suspect in custody
Police have arrested 19-year-old Christopher Hogan. He faces a preliminary charge of attempted murder. With the help of police dogs, police arrested Hogan some 25-minutes after the shooting and near the crime scene. They say they also recovered the weapon Hogan used in the crime. “Yes, a teenager is under arrest. It's possible that this crime, part or perhaps all of it, may have been caught on video tape,” says South Bend police chief Larry Bennett.
Video camera was invaluable
Police say several witnesses in the LaSalle Park neighborhood were helpful but it's believed there was one witness that saw it all and never blinked. Wolfenbarger's car is one of 35-on the South Bend Department that is equipped with a video camera. I can tell you the tape has substantial value to us in this investigation. If it does go to trial, the tapes does hold substantial evidentiary value to us,” says Bennett.
The chief expressed hope that all cars will have cameras in the near future. After some eight hours of searching police believe they found the weapon used in the shooting.
A makeshift memorial has been set up for Corporal Wolfenbarger at the scene of the shooting.
Condition update, Monday morning:
Corporal Wolfenbarger's condition is listed as critical at this time.