Centerville police chief: ‘There’s a lot of grief’ after teen shooting

The chaos at the Centerville Police Department following the agency’s first officer-involved shooting since 1987 is giving way to reflection about the “traumatic incident we’ve all been involved with,” a department spokesman said.

Faced Thursday with what they believed to be a real gun, two Centerville officers fired shots at a 15-year-old male pointing a replica handgun toward them. While the shots were not fatal, the gravity of the of the incident, which took place just behind the police station, is felt by the officers still there.

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“You kind of see how delicate life can be,” said Officer John Davis, the department’s spokesman, in an interview Monday. “I think it’s caused everyone to take pause.”

Centerville police have made contact with the teen, who was hospitalized and will likely not be incarcerated at this time, Davis said. Detectives are preparing to present evidence to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Police have not yet disclosed publicly what, if anything, they know for certain about the teenager’s motives for aiming an air pistol at Sgt. James Shanesy and Officer Scott Thomas, who combined have nearly 60 years of experience. The officers, Davis said, are “doing well” and were placed on paid administrative leave.

Chief Bruce Robertson said his prayers are directed not only to the involved officers and their families, but also toward the injured young man and his family, too.

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“It’s a horrible situation for the parents,” Robertson said Friday. “There’s a lot of grief. We’re very empathetic to that. I’m a parent and a grandparent, and I can’t imagine the grief that they’re going through.”

Authorities said the male’s record includes seven prior contacts with Centerville police since 2014, but the nature of those interactions remains unclear. This newsroom has requested the incident reports corresponding to those interactions, as well as the personnel records of the involved officers.

What is clear, the chief said, is the Centerville community’s support for the police.

“The community supports us very well,” Robertson said. “When we pinned these badges on, what we pinned them on for was to ensure safety and service to the community, and we do that to the best of our abilities.”


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