Officer Working Security During Church Service in Critical Condition After Responding to Area Robbery

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A police officer who was working security at a church in Alabama is in critical condition after responding to a robbery in the neighborhood and being shot by a teenager.

According to reports, narcotics detective John Finke was off duty on Sunday morning and was assisting with security at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham when a call came in about an area robbery.

He responded to the incident, where he reportedly confronted the suspects and called for backup.

Finke was shot during the confrontation, being struck twice in the abdomen and injured in the arm from ricochet. He was not wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The suspects are reported to be ages 16 and 25, with the 16-year-old being identified as responsible for shooting the officer.

Following a manhunt, both suspects were taken into custody and positively identified by the robbery victims. According to local television station WBMA, the males stole two cell phones and police were able to trace them to a location in Ensley.

A handgun that matched the caliber used to shoot Finke, as identified by the shell casings found at the scene, was also found with the 16-year-old.

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Finke was transported to the University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB) hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was last listed in critical condition.

“Tonight, we wrap our arms around officer John Finke, his family and the entire Birmingham Police Department,” Mayor Randall Woodfin posted to social media. “Our officers risk their lives each and every time they step out of their doors for the betterment of our communities. We thank them for their commitment.”

“Birmingham stands with you, Officer Finke, as we pray for a full recovery,” he said.

Church of the Highlands also requested prayer for Finke, outlining that he has served at the Woodlawn campus for eight years.

“He’s always made sure he lent an extra hand,” campus pastor Jamil Gilleylen told WBMA-TV. “It’s almost as if he knew there was a perspective in this neighborhood often times toward policemen. And he just really countered that with love. He did whatever it took — whether a child was having a bad day, he would high five, he would hug. He would remember names and even establish a rapport with the parents.”

“I’m praying God restores anything that was lost, whether that be physically or emotionally,” he said of the shooting. “Sometimes things like this can rob you emotionally as well, and I’m praying for full restoration of it all.”


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