TUCSON, AZ - A Tucson police is was recovering Sunday following surgery after he was shot in the head while checking on a home where a break-in had been reported, authorities said. The assailant remains on the loose.
Sgt. Robert Carpenter, 46, was standing with other officers near the home just before dawn Sunday when they heard a loud noise, and he fell, Chief Roberto Villasenor said. He underwent surgery and was able to speak afterward.
Police spokeswoman Sgt. Maria Hawke said although Carpenter was talking it was too soon to say if he would fully recover.
"It's very, very early," Hawke said. "He came out of surgery and was minimally responsive, which is encouraging, but it's way too early to tell what the long-term effects are going to be given that the bullet struck him in the head."
Although police saw no one in the area immediately after the 5:15 a.m. shooting, they did see a man fleeing the scene about three hours earlier when they responded to a separate burglary alarm at the same address.
That man is wanted for questioning and may be involved in the second incident. He was described as a 20- to 30-year-old Hispanic man with balding hair, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, 160 pounds, wearing a dark blue jersey with "43" on it and light colored blue jeans.
Police believe he may have arrived at the home on a bicycle and may be wearing a baseball-style hat (see pic in photo slideshow above).
Carpenter, 46, has been with the department for nearly 12 years and is a patrol supervisor on the overnight shift. Family and friends were with his at the hospital.
Villasenor urged anyone who knows or hears anything to call police.
"People like this sometime tend to brag on social network sites or to friends," he said. "If they hear anything about this, they need to let us know. Because someone who would do this would just as easily shoot someone else and we need to get this menace off the streets."
The Tucson Police Department urges anyone having information about the identity or whereabouts of the suspect(s) to call 911 or 88-Crime. In addition, a monetary reward is being offered via 88-Crime for information that leads to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting incident.