Saturday, March 30 2013 4:15 PM EDT2013-03-30 20:15:32 GMT
It has been a painful and hectic day for people in Topeka, and the obvious question is why two of their police officers were fatally shot outside a grocery store while responding to a report of a suspiciousMore >
It has been a painful and hectic day for people in Topeka, and the obvious question is why two of their police officers were fatally shot outside a grocery store while responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle.More >
TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) -
A vigil was held Monday night as devastated friends, family and even strangers struggle to cope with the needless death of two Topeka police officers.
"All we can do at this point is remember who they were, keep them alive in our memory," Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller said.
Miller called the Sunday evening shootings of Cpl. David Gogian and Officer Jeff Atherly "unspeakable."
He said Gogian, 50, and Atherly, 29, were both shot in the head by a gunman who opened fire on them within minutes of their arrival to investigate the vehicle.
"It's clearly beyond words. It's unspeakable almost about why this happens and why this is happening in America at this stage in our history," Miller said.
More than 100 mourners attended Monday night's vigil.
The man suspected of killing the two officers outside a grocery store died in a hail of bullets Monday after police spent hours Sunday and Monday searching for him.
A nearly two-hour standoff in the 300 block of Southwest Western Avenue in Topeka ended Monday morning with police removing the alleged shooter from the home.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation officers and other authorities surrounded the home after receiving a tip, and yelled the suspect's name, believed to be 22-year-old David Edward Tiscareno.
SWAT team officers lobbed tear gas into the home just after 6 a.m. and the suspect came out of the home carrying a gun.
Shots were fired by law enforcement, and the suspect was hit and transported to a an area hospital. It is unknown at this time if the suspect fired the gun he was carrying. Tiscareno was pronounced dead at the hospital.
As the area has mourned, candles, flowers, gifts and donations have piled up in memory of the officers.
"I came out just to show support for the police department," Jessica Westfall said.
The officers were responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle about 6:10 p.m. outside the Dillons grocery store located at Southwest Huntoon and Southwest Lane streets. Police believed a drug deal was going down in the parking lot.
Gogian and Atherly had arrived as backup for another officer when someone in the vehicle they were investigating started shooting.
"I don't believe they had any idea this situation was going to go this direction as quickly as it did," Miller said.
The officers exchanged gunfire with a man later identified as Tiscareno, of Topeka, driving a 1999 silver Toyota Camry. Officers were detaining two of three people in the car when the third person, Tiscareno, opened fire, police said.
Sheriff Herman Jones of the Shawnee County Sheriff's Office said Tiscareno excited the vehicle and shot the first officer.
"The suspect immediately turned and shot the second officer," Jones said.
Miller didn't know the motive for the shooting but said the suspect has a criminal history, though he wouldn't elaborate.
"We really don't know why he did what he did. It would have been nice to figure out what his motivation was. We're not going to know that," he said.
No charges have been filed against the two in the car with the suspect. Those two were detained and questioned.
A third officer on the scene at the time of Sunday evening's shooting was not injured. He fired shots at the suspect, but apparently didn't strike him. That officer helped officers piece together what happened.
Gogian and Atherly were taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.
Gogian started with the Topeka Police Department in September 2004. Atherly had been with the department since April 2011.
Miller said Gogian retired after 20 years in the military. He was a reserve officer for 13 years and a full-time officer for the past eight years. He has a son who's also a Topeka police officer.
"He had spent his life in service to his country and in the city of Topeka," the chief said.
Brian Martin served with Gogian in the 127th Weather Flight of the Kansas Air National Guard. He knew him for 20 years.
"He spent his entire adult life serving others. There are a lot of people who are called to do that, but few of them do it for 30 years," Martin said. "When I had to start making a list of people I needed to call this morning, I realized it was a huge list. He was loved by a lot of people."
As a supervisor, Gogian volunteered to go on the call.
Meanwhile, Atherly was "just getting started" in his career, he said. He joined the Topeka force 18 months ago.
"Right in the middle of a parking lot in front of a grocery store on a Sunday night. Who would have thought," Miller said.
The last time a Topeka officer was killed in the line of duty was 2000, and it's been longer than that — since 1995 — that one was fatally shot on the job.
The entire law enforcement community is shocked and saddened by the deaths of the officers.
Police officials announced the news of the officers' deaths Sunday night as a small crowd gathered nearby for a candlelight vigil outside police headquarters.
The Topeka Police Department has created a memorial fund. Donations may be made to the Topeka Police Credit Union, 320 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS 66603. Donations may be mailed or dropped off in person. The credit union, which is in the lobby of the police station, is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
KCTV5's Abby Kerner, Justin Schmidt and DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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