Anthony Sean Bolton of the Memphis Police Department was fatally shot by the passenger of a 2002 Mercedes-Benz after stopping the driver for a traffic violation Saturday evening, authorities said. Both the suspect and driver fled the scene before a civilian used the officer's radio to notify police of the shooting, according to officials. Bolton was then taken in critical condition to Regional Medical Center, where he died of multiple gunshot wounds. Police have identified 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn as the shooting suspect. But who was Officer Sean Bolton?
Police said they were notified at 9:18 local time (10:18 ET) that an officer was shot and had several gunshot wounds. Police soon recognized their fellow officer as 33-year-old Bolton, who joined the Memphis Police Force in 2010. Prior to that, Bolton served in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the Officer Down Memorial page, and had also served a tour of duty in Iraq.
Bolton was the third police officer in Memphis to be killed in the line of duty in the past four years, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong told reporters. The last of these shootings was Officer Martoiya Lang in 2012, reported USA Today. Armstrong released a statement on behalf of the police department.
It doesn't get any easier. This is a very difficult time, not only for me as director, but for all the officers you see standing behind me. And a difficult time for our city as well. So I ask that you give us the respect that we need ... and the space that we need to grieve, and the time that we need to prepare to lay our brother to rest.
Memphis police said Bolton had likely interrupted a drug transaction; they later found less than two grams of marijuana in the vehicle. Bolton was shot with a semiautomatic pistol, according to Law Enforcement Today.
The driver of the vehicle turned himself in but has since been released, according to WSB-TV. Police have issued an official manhunt for Wilbourn, who they have said is armed and dangerous. The news site reported that Wilbourn was on a supervised release for a 121-month sentence for a bank robbery and that U.S. Marshals are offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who finds him.