A Mobile Police officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty, and the only suspect in custody at this time is a teenager the department has spent weeks looking for.
According to MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste, Officer Sean Tuder was “gunned down” while working a case that involved a suspect with outstanding warrants. Few details have been released, but an incident involving an MPD officer was first reported in an area around Leroy Stevens and Grelot Roads sometime in the late afternoon on Sunday.
Battiste said that a suspect, 19-year-old Marco Perez, had been taken into custody after the incident, though he could not confirm whether he actually shot and killed Officer Tuder.
Perez has been on the run from local authorities and is suspected of faking his own kidnapping and murder to avoid pending state and federal criminal charges. His mother, Tiffany Perez, was charged with filing a false police report in connection to those allegations last Thursday.
At 5 p.m., Battiste called a press conference outside the emergency room at Providence Hospital and announced that Tuder had died as a result of his injuries. He also noted it had been less than a year since MPD officer Justin Billa was killed in the line of duty in Mobile.
“For the family of our officer, and the men and women who wear the uniform and badge, this is a time of grief for us. We’re trying to make sense of how we can have another brother lose his life in less than a year,” Battiste said. “We just ask the community to keep us in your prayers along with [Officer Tuder’s] wife, his mom and dad and his in laws. This is going to be a difficult time.”
According to information released by MPD, Tuder joined the department in March of 2016 and worked a high-crime area in MPD’s 1st precinct. He also had experience as a K-9 officer. He named the “Officer of the Month” in July 2017.
Though he had been on the force less than three years, Battiste said Tuder had already started making a positive impact not just on the community he worked in, but also on his fellow officers.
“He was one of those guys that certainly resonates in your mind as someone who’s a true leader and doing his best in this community to keep people safe and be a role model for others,” Battiste said. “He was one of those officers that believed in mentoring and helping to bring other officers along.”
Battiste said that details about the incident that resulted in Tuder’s death would be sparse for the time being while officers work their investigation into exactly what happened.
Update: The Mobile Police Department held a second press conference about Tuder’s death at 8 p.m., Jan. 20.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said her office would be bringing capital murder charges against Perez only hours after he was brought into police custody. She said his alleged killing of a peace officer was the basis of those charges, though she said the investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
“The evidence is still unfolding and this is still an active investigation, but at this time, I am authorizing charges against [Perez] for capital murder,” she said.
Perez was booked into Mobile Metro Jail around 11:40 p.m., Sunday night. However, Rich would not say whether her office would be seeking the death penalty, adding she would make that decision in consultation with Tuder’s family.
Authorities have still declined to give further details on the shooting. Battiste wouldn’t say whether Tuder was alone when he encountered Perez, and neither he nor Rich addressed whether Perez’ mother could face additional charges.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson has also expressed his “heartfelt condolences” to the Tuder family and the entire department.
“This is a tremendously sad day for officer Tuder and his family,” Stimpson said. “It’s a sad day for the MPD, who have twice in less than a year’s time lost one of their own, and it’s also a sad day for the city of Mobile as a whole.”
Stimpson, who spent time with Tuder when he was named MPD’s Officer of the Month in 2017, said he was an outstanding officer that had done great things in the short time he’d been a member of the MPD. He also described Tuder’s death in the line of duty as a tremendous loss for the department and the city of Mobile.
“He was really on a fast tract — a very aspiring officer and one that was destined to do great things,” Stimpson added.
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