Toledo, OH – Toledo Police Department (TPD) Officer Brandon Stalker died in the line of duty on Monday evening during a standoff with a barricaded arson suspect.
The incident began at sometime before 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 18, when someone set the front doors of the historic Rosary Cathedral ablaze and spray painted “Jesus is Black” on the walls, WTOL reported.
The fire had extinguished itself prior to the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department arriving at the scene.
Investigators determined the fire was an arson, and estimated the cumulative damages amounted to $5,100, according to WTOL.
The suspect, who fled the scene, was later identified by police as 27-year-old Christopher Harris, WBNS reported.
Harris also used an alias of “Daniel Love,” according to the news outlet.
Toledo police searching for the accused arsonist spotted him smoking outside a home in the 2200-block of Fulton Street at approximately 4 p.m., TPD Chief George Kral said during a press conference later that night, according to WTOL.
As officers approached him, Harris allegedly pulled out a gun and ran into a nearby house, WBNS reported.
Police set up a perimeter around the home and called in the SWAT team to negotiate with the barricaded suspect, as per protocol.
Officer Stalker, 24, was positioned on the perimeter throughout the ensuing standoff, WBNS reported.
Harris refused to negotiate with police during the two hours that followed, according to Chief Kral.
The SWAT team ultimately fired tear gas into the home to drive him out, at which point Harris emerged from the house carrying a gun in each hand, Chief Kral said.
He fired both weapons multiple times in several directions, WBNS reported.
One of the bullets struck Officer Stalker in the head.
Multiple officers immediately returned fire, killing the gunman, WBNS reported.
Officer Stalker was rushed to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds.
“The entire Toledo Police family is in shock,” Chief Kral said after the young officer’s murder. “Another hero has paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting the residents of Toledo. Our hearts are heavy tonight.
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said Officer Stalker’s death marked “a dark day in our city and a dark time in our community,” WBNS reported.
Officer Stalker joined TPD in July of 2018, WTOL reported.
“He was an amazing police officer,” Chief Kral said, according to The Enquirer.
Officer Stalker graduated from the academy alongside fellow TPD Officer Anthony Dia, 26, who died in the line of duty on July 4, 2020, after an intoxicated gunman shot him in the chest outside a Home Depot store.
Officer Stalker leaves behind his fiancé, his young daughter, and his three-month-old son, WTOL reported.
“Toledo is heartbroken tonight over the loss of @ToledoPoliceOfficer Brandon Stalker, who was shot and killed in the line of duty while protecting its citizens,” Kapszukiewicz tweeted on Monday night. “A fantastic Officer and a proud new dad, his loss will be felt forever. We will never forget his service and sacrifice.”
The mayor also called on citizens to “challenge themselves to respond to today’s horrible events with thoughts of love and light,” CNN reported.
“And perhaps, each in our own way, we can drive out the darkness that we feel in our hearts right now, and provide a brighter path for our police department, our community, our neighborhoods, and everyone who is suffering tonight,” he added.
A fundraising campaign established to help Officer Stalker’s young family in the wake of their loss has raised over $4,600 so far.
We are devastated to confirm the Line of Duty Death of #toledopolice officer Brandon Stalker. Officer Stalker joined Toledo Police in 2018 and is survived by loving family, both blood and blue. More information will be made available as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/3noa6Frd3J
— Toledo Police (@ToledoPolice) January 19, 2021
In honor of Officer Stalker's life and service, I have ordered that all U.S. and Ohio flags be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds in Lucas County and at the @OhioStatehouse, Riffe Center, and Rhodes Tower in Columbus until sunset on the day of his funeral. pic.twitter.com/xuOTXw7nYJ
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) January 19, 2021
In honor of Toledo Police Department Officer Brandon Stalker pic.twitter.com/SMmIaO1Cd4
— Ohio State Patrol (@OSHP) January 19, 2021
Our hearts our broken tonight for our brothers and sisters of the #ToledoPolice Department. Never take for granted that these are the heroes who protect us from those that lurk in the shadows. RIP Ofc Brandon Stalker – EOW 01/18/2021￼ 💙💔 @ToledoPolice pic.twitter.com/Kq1tETNiCh
— Toledo Fire & Rescue (@ToledoFire) January 19, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Toledo Police Department Officer Brandon Stalker, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Brandon Stalker, your life mattered.