COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant provided an update Monday after an officer shot a man early Saturday morning who fired a shotgun at police officers.
Just before 1 a.m. Saturday, police responded to a report of gunshots in the 600 block of Kingsford Road.
As officers responded to the area, Sgt. Joseph Albert said 36-year-old Lamar Blue fired at officers, striking their police vehicle.
"For those of us who were there that night, we understand that this shotgun blast came perilously close to the officer on the passenger side of this car," Assistant Chief Greg Bodker said. "Only by good luck and the grace of God he escaped with his life that night and was forced to respond with deadly force."
According to court documents, officers ordered him to show them his hands as he walked toward him. That's when Blue pulled out the shotgun and fired, the court documents said.
"That gun came out of nowhere," Bryant said. "If you look at the video, the suspect actually approached officers. He wasn't retreating, he wasn't trying to hide, he wasn't trying to run, he was walking directly towards them with that weapon and he pulled it. They had no idea that he was the person that they were intending to engage."
He walked directly toward the officers, directly towards them. In my mind and in my opinion, that was an ambush.
Body-cam video shows Blue approaching the officers, who asked him if he had heard any gunshots in the area. It was then that Blue pulled a shotgun that was hidden behind his back and fired.
Officer Payne Vantilburg, a two-year veteran with the department, fired back, striking Blue. Bryant said Blue fired the shot 13 seconds after officers arrived.
"I believe the quick action of the officer that fired shots saved both of those officers' lives," Bryant said.
Police said Blue ran away from officers. Police located him a short distance away and provided aid until medics arrived, the division of police said. Bryant said officers used first-aid equipment purchased with their own money to save Blue's life.
"Officers provided life-saving first aid until medics arrived," Bryant said. "The officers were sprinting sometimes at far distances to their cruisers to get their personal first-aid equipment. The officers used utilized a chest seal, which they bought with their own money, to save the life of Mr. Blue."
Police said officers found the gun near where Blue was located.
Blue was taken to the hospital in critical condition but has been upgraded to stable. He has been charged with two counts of felony first-degree assault on a peace officer. Charging documents filed by police accuse him of firing a shotgun at the passenger side of the officers' vehicle next to the passenger window.
Bryant said Blue will survive his injuries.
"They (officers) are not only enforcing the law, they are life savers," Bryant said. "They do care about the community and immediately once the threat was eliminated and they were no longer in danger, they immediately transitioned to trying to save the life. This is what they do."
No officers were injured during the shooting.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.