A sheriff's deputy in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, was critically wounded after he was shot at close range Thursday as he helped a victim of domestic violence.
Deputy 1st Class Warren Scott Hogan, 32, was shot by a 52-year-old man as Hogan helped a woman get her belongings from the suspect's home after she reported an altercation between them, authorities said.
Hogan was able to fire back, and James L. Rich II was shot and killed.
Maryland State Police Public Information Officer Greg Shipley said Rich's girlfriend, who had been staying at Rich's home, sent a text message to her father about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. She told her father she and Rich had been in a physical altercation and reportedly asked her father to call police.
Sheriff's deputies responded to Rich's home on Edmore Road in Chestertown and discovered the victim and Rich had left. They later learned the woman's father had picked her up and taken her to the sheriff's office.
While at the sheriff's office, the woman asked Hogan to take her to Rich's home to pick up her clothing.
Hogan, the woman and her parents went back to the home, and found Rich had returned. Rich's teenage son was also present, Shipley said.
After the deputy and the woman went inside, she and Rich argued.
According to the preliminary investigation, Rich walked into a back room, grabbed a shotgun and fired one shot. He walked toward Hogan, and he and the sheriff's deputy exchanged gunfire, Shipley said. Both men were hit.
Rich was pronounced dead at Chester River Hospital.
Hogan was struck at close range in the torso, said Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief at R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Maryland.
"He was awake and talking, but clearly critically injured," Scalea said.
"...[A] close-range shotgun blast is a devastating injury," he said.
Hogan was flown to Shock Trauma, where he underwent surgery. He may need more surgery, and remains "quite ill, but we are hopeful," Scalea said. "It's a little early to tell what else we're going to have to do, and we'll see how things go over the next few days and few weeks."
No one else was shot.
Hogan was wearing body armor, but he was shot below the armor, Hoffman said.
Hogan was wearing a body camera during the incident. Investigators will review any footage available, Shipley said. The footage would be considered part of the ongoing investigation and would not be released, he said.
Hogan is a four-year veteran of the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office and served about seven years with another agency, Queen Anne's County Sheriff Gary Hofmann said.
"He's a really great guy," Hofmann said. "We've been here the entire time with him and his family, supporting them and help them get through this very traumatic event."
Hofmann said he visited Hogan as he awoke from surgery and appeared to be in "good spirits." Hoffman said Hogan's family was having a difficult time.
Earlier Thursday, the sheriff's office ;posted on Facebook, "Your prayers, posts and messages are appreciated."
The Maryland State Police homicide unit is investigating the case.
Calls related to domestic disputes are the most dangerous types of calls for responding officers, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund says.
More police officers were killed in 2016 after they responded to domestic disturbances than any other type of call, according to data the group released Thursday. Overall law enforcement fatalities rose this year to their highest level in five years, with 135 officers killed in the line of duty.
In our area, Prince William County Officer Ashley Guindon was shot and killed in February by a man who apparently shot and killed his wife before officers arrived. Guindon, who was 28, was called to the house for a reported domestic disturbance.
"Any officer realizes your next call could be your last," Guindon's uncle Mark Guindon told News4 earlier this year.