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Manhunt Begins After Memphis Police Officer Killed During Traffic Stop

Officer Sean Bolton, 33, was conducting a routine traffic stop when he was shot multiple times on Saturday night. On Sunday, police identified a suspect who remained at large.

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According to officials, police received a call from a civilian at around 9:18 p.m. local time on Saturday warning that an officer had been shot.

The man used the officer's radio to report the shooting. Officer Sean Bolton, 33, was transported to a hospital in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds, but later died from his injuries.

Bolton had been a police officer since 2010. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served a tour of duty in Iraq.

"Last night we lost not only an officer, but a great man, a dedicated servant to our community, and a family member," Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said on Sunday.

At a somber press conference, Armstrong said that Bolton had apparently interrupted a drug deal.

Local Memphis / Via

The officer stopped after noticing an illegally parked 2002 Mercedes-Benz, Armstrong said. Bolton pulled in front of the car, turned on his spotlight, and confronted a passenger.

After a brief physical struggle, the passenger of the car took out a gun and shot the officer multiple times. The driver and passenger then drove off.

As of Sunday evening, the suspected shooter remained at large.

"We will exhaust all means until he is in custody," Armstrong said.

Police identified the suspect as 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn. "When you're looking at this individual, you're looking at a coward," Armstrong said.

Local Memphis / Via

Police recovered 1.7 grams of marijuana from inside the Mercedes, Armstrong said. He spoke with emotion as he questioned how such a small amount of the drug could have led to the loss of an officer's life.

"You're talking about a misdemeanor citation," Armstrong said.

Wilbourn had been on supervised release following a 10-year prison sentence for robbing a bank, Armstrong said. He should be considered armed and dangerous.

U.S. Marshals are assisting the Memphis Police Department and have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Wilbourn's capture.

"All lives matter," Armstrong said. "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."


Memphis Mayor A C Wharton added he had asked the city council to authorize an additional $10,000 reward.

Local Memphis / Via

He thanked the city's police officers for their dedicated work over the last day even as they were grieving. Across the city, residents were seeking peace and consolation, he said.

"This is a city in prayer," he said.

The driver of the car had given police a statement after being taken into custody, Armstrong said. He was released without charges.

Heavily armed TACT officers and armored vehicles where deployed during standoff in Hickory Pointe Apts. @memphisnews

Earlier Sunday, the Commercial Appeal reported that police had surrounded an apartment complex in the search for the suspect.

The officers, who the newspaper described as heavily armed, arrived in an armored vehicle and focused on one building in the complex.

Officers also recovered a handgun near the scene of the shooting, The Commercial Appeal reported.

Officers recovered a hand gun in a field near Cottonwood Apartments near the scene where MPD killed. @memphisnews

It is the third time in four years an officer had been killed in Memphis.

In 2011, Officer Tim Warren was killed when he responded to a shooting at a downtown Memphis hotel. In December 2012, Officer Martoiya Lang was also killed on duty while serving a warrant.

Armstrong said the latest incident serves as a reminder to "how dangerous" even basic police work can be.

Wharton echoed Armstrong's message, saying Saturday's killing "speaks volumes about the inherent danger of police work."

Felipe Araujo is the overnight homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

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Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

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