Veteran Arlington Officer Injured Serving Warrants in Saginaw

It will be a long road to recovery for an Arlington police officer shot Tuesday when gunfire erupted as law enforcement tried to serve arrest and search warrants on a suspect in the killing of a 6-year-old girl whose naked, bound body was found wrapped in a tarp on a residential North Texas street, authorities said.

Arlington Police Officer Charles Lodatto was one of at least five who went to the home in Saginaw to serve the warrants.

A law enforcement source told NBC 5 police went to the home of Tyler Holder, 17, a teenager who lives a few houses down from Alanna Gallagher's home.

FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont said once the officers knocked, they were confronted by an armed suspect who fired on them. One of the officers returned fire, striking the suspect, she said.

Lodatto, a 20-year veteran of the Arlington Police Department was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth.

Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference that Lodatto was out of surgery and faced a "difficult road ahead" but that they are "optimistic" that he will fully recover from his injuries.

Dr. William Witham, one of the treating trauma surgeons at the hospital, said that a bullet divided Lodatto's femoral artery and then lodged in his hip socket.

Witham said the officer is in the guarded condition in the ICU and will need a couple of more surgeries. He said Lodatto is awake, alert and talking.

Johnson and Witham both credited emergency crews with saving Lodatto's life.

"I know that the reason that we're able to report that Det. Lodatto is doing as well as he has, is because of that care he has received," said Johnson. "We're very, very grateful."

Witham said a field tourniquet applied immediately after the shooting stopped the bleeding and stabilized him until he could have surgery at the hospital.

"Thanks to the presence of mind of his officers and EMS, they applied a tourniquet to his wound and frankly that probably saved his life," said Witham.

Earlier in the day, Johnson tweeted about his officer's surgery and recovery.

Johnson said Lodatto was named detective of the year. He is married with two children, his family is also by his side at the hospital.

Several police officers and FBI agents were at the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

MedStar said the other male was shot in the head and transports to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

The officers, part of a major crimes task force that includes the FBI and several police departments, were investigating the death of Alanna Gallagher, whose body was found on a Saginaw street about a mile away from her home July 1 by two teenage boys.

The house where the shooting occurred is two doors down from the home where Alanna lived with her family. Authorities have offered a $10,000 reward for information about her death.

Nearby streets were blocked Tuesday by yellow police tape and patrol vehicles. The tape was extended to light poles where purple ribbons had been tied shortly after the girl's body was found.

Police also are trying to determine who set fire to a makeshift memorial for Alanna and torched a car owned by the girl's family that was parked in their driveway. The damage was discovered Friday.

NBC 5's Chris Van Horne contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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