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Md police: Slain officer died from friendly fire

Police stand outside a Popeyes restaurant during an investigation into the shooting of a Prince George's County police officer outside a police station, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Hyattsville, Md.

AP

LANDOVER, Md. -- The tragic tale of a young officer killed in the line of duty has taken a sad twist. The officer's department says the officer died from friendly fire in gunman's ambush.

Prince George's County police say the killed, Jacai Colson, arrived on scene during the shootout and was in undercover vehicle. He engaged with shooter and was wearing civilian clothes.

Earlier Monday, the department announced that three brothers had been arrested in the killing of officer Colson by a gunman who "intended to die during a gun battle with police."

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Prince George's County Police Officer Jacai Colson, a four-year veteran of the department, died in an "unprovoked attack" outside the station on Sunday, March 13, 2016.
Prince George's County Police Department

Prince George's County police tweeted Monday that they had a third brother in custody in Sunday night's slaying of Officer Jacai Colson.

Colson was pronounced dead at a hospital. The gunman was wounded when other officers responded, and is expected to survive. Police identified the brothers as 21-year-old Malik Ford, Elijah Ford, 18, and the accused shooter, 22-year-old Michael DeAndre Ford.

Prince George's County police chief Stawinski called it an "unprovoked attack."

He said Colson's fellow officers were going about their business on the quiet, rainy Sunday when the gunman opened fire on the first officer he saw outside the station around 4:30 p.m. in Landover, a suburb northeast of downtown Washington, D.C., the chief said.

A gun battle followed, with several officers shooting at the suspect, Stawinski said.

"Those officers did not shrink. They bravely advanced and engaged this individual," the chief said.

An eyewitness said she saw a man dressed in black firing a handgun as she looked through her window, according to a report in The Washington Post.

"He fired one shot, and then he started pacing back and forth, then fired another shot," said Lascelles Grant, a nurse. Police then poured out of the station, she said. "Just looking outside, I'm like, 'Oh my God, look at all these police officers running out, putting their lives really in danger.'"

The woman couldn't immediately be reached by The Associated Press.

Stawinski said one brother was believed to have been with the gunman when he opened fire, but fled and was later arrested. No information was immediately released about the second brother. The chief had few other answers for reporters at a Sunday night news conference.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks called it "cowardice" and a "horrific act of evil," promising an aggressive investigation and prosecution. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also are aiding police, spokesmen for the two federal agencies said.

Colson, who would have turned 29 this week, was a four-year department veteran who worked as an undercover narcotics officer. His football coach at Randolph-Macon College, where Colson played for one year, said he was "a great young man who was well liked and well respected."

"He was just a great human being," coach Pedro Arruza said. "He was a very positive, positive person and an upbeat guy, a good person to be around. He had a lot of friends on campus, everybody liked him. He was just a really high-character guy."

Sheriff's deputy Dominick Chambers, a friend from the police academy, said they celebrated their four-year anniversary as officers on March 12, the day before Colson was killed.

"He always wanted to be a police officer," Chambers said. "Everyone is taking it real bad, real bad. I'm talking to my classmates, checking in on them. We're not doing well."