Police confirm: officer shot early Sunday morning

CREATED Nov 18, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov 19, 2012

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  • Patrol Sergeant Robert Carpenter, 46, was shot in the head Sunday, Nov. 18 while responding to a 9-1-1 call. Police Chief Robert Villasenor said Carpenter's prognosis was good during his surgery Sunday morning.

Reporter: Maggie Vespa, Alexis Fernandez, Cory Marshall

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - According to Tucson Police, a longtime TPD officer was shot in the head early Sunday morning in a midtown neighborhood. It happened early Sunday morning as police were investigating 911 calls of burglaries in progress in the area.

Both calls- at 1:43 a.m. and 5:15 a.m.- were from the same home, in the 4000 block of East Elmwood Road.  
Sergeant Robert Carpenter was among those responding to that second call.  Roughly 10 minutes after officers had cleared the scene, Chief Roberto Villasenor says Carpenter was shot.  None of the officers saw who pulled the trigger.
Roughly ten minutes after that second call, the scene was supposed to be safe.
"They were still standing at the property when a loud noise was heard, and one of our officers, identified as Sergeant Robert Carpenter, fell," said TPD Chief Roberto Villasenor.
Villasenor says officers pulled Carpenter to cover, not knowing where the shooter was, or if he had bigger plans.
"We don't know if the suspect who shot Sgt. Carpenter was involved in the burglary, or if this was just an ambush on the officers, or what the situation or motive was at this time."
Sgt. carpenter was taken by ambulance to University of Arizona Medical Center, with a gunshot wound to the head.  Following surgery, he is stable but in critical condition.  The chief describes him as responsive, adding his prognosis is good.
Back on the scene, the hunt was on.
"We're not holding back anything on this search," said Chief Villasenor.  "We brought out the helicopter.  We brought out our SWAT personnel."
For several hours, police combed surrounding areas, blocking off streets, going through yards, searching for the gunman block by block, house by house.
Later that morning, a break.
"It had to be somebody who knew there was no door there," said 75 year-old Mary Marino.
Marino lives in ground zero of the search.  Police tell her the bad guys used her old shed out back to stash stolen goods.
"That was a shock to me because i was in the shed just last evening around 5 o'clock because i was putting my christmas decorations away.  (Makes it hit a little closer to home, I would think?)  Yes," she said.
A feeling shared by Marino's neighbors who awoke to a police presence like nothing they'd ever seen.
"(You came outside and they saw you?)  I went out front this morning in my bathrobe, as I usually do to get the paper out of the driveway, and saw the police had barricaded the whole neighborhood down, and they shouted for me to go back in the house," said Sharon Foltz, who lives little more than a block from the scene.
"It's very scary," she said.  "So i think, i'm definitely on edge.  I think the neighbors are definitely on edge."
Residents were told to stay inside through the afternoon, as police continued their search for the person or persons who dared to target one of their own.
"We're going to bring all of our forces to bear on this," said Chief Villasenor.  "This is just not something that's going to go away.  We're going to find this individual.  We're going to apprehend him."
Police are pulling out all the stops, including resources from the U.S. Marshall's office and Tederal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
At the same time police are learning more about the shooter, and the destruction he or she may have had planned.
The bullet that entered Sgt. Carpenter's skull was a large one.  Police say it was at least a .22 calliber.
If you have any information, you're urged to call 9-1-1 or 8-8-crime.
The Tucson Police Foundation has started a donation fund for the Carpenter family. Anyone can make a donation by visiting the Tucson Police Foundation website and donating to "Sgt. Robert Carpenter and Family."