Vigil, donations, fundraisers set up to honor officer killed in standoff
Officer Brandon Stalker was killed during a standoff Monday evening that also resulted in the death of the suspect.
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Toledo community is coming together to mourn the death of Officer Brandon Stalker, a 24-year-old Toledo Police Officer who was killed Monday evening while responding to a standoff in the 2300-block of Fulton. That standoff also resulted in the death of the suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Harris.
Members of the community are planning a candlelight vigil for Ofc. Stalker at 6:30 PM on Tuesday. It will be held across the street from Washington Junior High School, off Alexis by Whitmer. Those looking to pay their respects can also do so in the form of monetary donations to the Brandon Stalker Memorial Fund at the Toledo Police Federal Credit Union, or through other community efforts, including t-shirt fundraisers from Lateral Gig and Ohio Going Blue, and a GoFundMe.
Officer Stalker was among a number of officers who responded to Fulton Street after members of the Gang Task Force noticed Harris in the area at about 3:30 PM Monday. They believed him to be the suspect who had vandalized a cathedral earlier Monday morning. When officers approached, they say Harris brandished a firearm and entered his home. Police then set up a perimeter and called in a SWAT team and a negotiator.
After attempting to negotiate with the suspect for several hours, the SWAT team fired gas canisters into the home in an effort to force him out, according to police. Around 6:30 PM, TPD Chief George Kral said, the suspect came out with two handguns and began firing, hitting and killing Officer Stalker, who was stationed on the perimeter of the scene to keep residents out of the scene and line of fire. A preliminary autopsy report confirms that Officer Stalker was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
Harris was also shot and killed during the exchange after police say multiple officers fired their weapons at Harris. All of those officers will be placed on paid administrative leave while the department conducts its investigation.
According to police, Officer Stalker had a fiancé and two children, a 7-year-old and a 3-month-old. He was a graduate of Whitmer High School.
“This is a very dark and hurtful day for the city of Toledo,” Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said at a press conference Monday night. “It comes at a time when the Toledo Police Department has had to endure too many dark and terrible days in the past six months.
“The events that took place today challenge all of us in how best we should respond to the sadness that we feel in our hearts. For those who react with feelings of hatred and a desire to take our community into a darker place, I might simply say that Dr. King said ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has ordered all flags in the state to be lowered to half-mast until Officer Stalker’s funeral.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement Tuesday morning, saying, “A man of valor and honor was killed, but valor and honor live on in his tens of thousands of partners across Ohio. Most of us live in peace and safety because people like Officer Stalker spend their working day at risk of violence. My heart breaks for the family he left behind, and for his brother and sister officers.”
And locally, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas with the Diocese of Toledo said, “With the most profound sorrow we mourn the tragic death of Officer Brandon Stalker, the 24-year-old who was shot and killed in the line of duty while protecting residents from a gunman during a standoff. We stand in prayerful solidarity with Officer Stalker’s family and friends, with Chief George Kral and the family of the Toledo Police Department, and with our entire community.
“Together with all people of good will, I am deeply grateful for the selfless generosity of the men and women in uniform who daily risk their own lives to protect and serve us all. Together, may we all commit ourselves to increased prayer and action to bring about an end to violence and all its underlying causes.
“May Officer Brandon Stalker rest in the arms of our loving Father.”
Officer Stalker is the 32nd Toledo Police officer killed in the line of duty and the first since the shooting death of Officer Anthony Dia on July 4, 2020.
Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan called it a “sad and devastating day” in a statement released Tuesday.
“This is an unimaginable loss to the Toledo community, the Toledo Police Department and all who knew him,” Brennan said. “Words cannot describe the heartache and pain felt by the family and friends of Officer Stalker. I send my heartfelt condolences to his children, fiancée, and family.
“Officer Stalker had only just begun his career as a public servant when he was tragically killed. Few professions demand not only the best of people but that they go to work every day willing to sacrifice their own lives for the greater good. Law enforcement is certainly one of those professions. Yesterday, Officer Stalker made the ultimate sacrifice.
“The Department of Justice stands with the Toledo Police Department and offers our support during this difficult time. Tragically, this marks the second time in less than seven months that a member of the Toledo Police Department was killed in the line of duty as a result of firearms violence. Now, more than ever, and for the memory of Officer Stalker, let us show our support for the brave men and women in law enforcement who have chosen a profession that asks so much of them, their colleagues and their families.
“Toledo is a safer community because of Officer Stalker and the nation mourns his loss.”
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