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Published August 03, 2011, 05:43 PM

Rapid City Officer Killed in Shooting Had Recently Gotten Engaged

Two other officers shot; suspect in custody
A 28-year-old police officer is dead and two other officers are injured after a suspect open fired here Tuesday afternoon.

By: Wendy Reuer, Forum Communications

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A 28-year-old police officer is dead and two other officers are injured after a suspect open fired here Tuesday afternoon.

In a live news conference broadcast over the Rapid City Journal website, Police Chief Steve Allender said the incident happened about 4:30 p.m. All three officers were taken to the Rapid City Regional Hospital, where Officer Ryan McCandless was later pronounced dead.

Officer Nick Armstrong, 27, was taken into surgery and is listed as being in critical condition.

A third officer was not identified at the news conference. Allender said the officer was shot in the face and underwent surgery. His condition was unknown at the time of the news conference.

The suspect, a Native American male in his 20s was shot, but his specific injuries are not known at this time, Allender said. The suspect is under arrest at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Allender said the three officers were responding to what they thought was a routine call regarding suspicious behavior. Officers arrived to find four people at the scene and spoke for about 10 minutes before the lone suspect pulled out a concealed pistol and began to fire at the officers.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard issued a statement calling the incident “a terrible thing.”

Allender said McCandless was a six-year veteran of the force. McCandless moved from Michigan to South Dakota and had recently became engaged and bought a hobby farm.

“He was looking forward to working on that farm for years to come,” Allender said at the news conference.

McCandless earned a master’s degree in public administration and planned to become chief of police one day, Allender said.

“Ryan McCandless was a nice guy and he went to work every day to serve the citizens of this city,” Allender said. “We’re well- trained, we’re well- equipped, but we cannot deal with every threat with certainty,”

Allender said no Rapid City police officer has been killed since August 2001 when an officer, just three days on the job, was killed at his home. In 1985 an officer was struck and killed by a drunken driver.

Rapid City is a city of about 63,000, about 175 miles southwest of Pierre, the state capital.

The incident is currently under investigation by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation with assistance from other state agencies. Allender said numerous offers of assistance have poured in from law enforcement across the region.

According to the website Officer Down Memorial, 24 South Dakota law enforcement officers have been fatally shot in the line of duty. The last was Turner County Sheriff Deputy Chad Lee Mechels in 2009. Before that, it was South Dakota State Highway Trooper Verlyn Lamonte Mettler, who was shot and killed in 1976.

There have been 44 officers across the country shot and killed in the line of duty so far this year.

The last fatal officer shooting in North Dakota was Bismarck Police Sgt. Steve Kenner, 52, who was gunned down while responding to a domestic incident July 8.

At the news conference, Allender lowered his head, as he said, “Ryan paid the ultimate price today. These officers are heroes, and we just ask you and the rest of the community to honor them.”