Tara O’Sullivan (Source: Sacramento Police Dept)

Lauren Hernández and Dustin Gardiner
San Francisco Chronicle

A Sacramento police officer helping a woman move out of a home after a domestic dispute Wednesday was fatally shot with a rifle by a suspect who barricaded himself in the home, police said.

The rookie officer, Tara O’Sullivan, 26, died at UC Davis Medical Center. Police had to conduct a rescue operation to remove the officer from the backyard, where she collapsed. The shooting occurred around 6 p.m. and the rescue was conducted just before 7 p.m., police said.

O’Sullivan graduated from the academy in December and was still in training.

“This is a horrible night for the city of Sacramento,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg early Thursday morning.

Sgt. Vance Chandler, a Sacramento police spokesman, detailed the hours leading up to the shooting at a Wednesday night press conference nearly a mile away from the scene because the man was still armed and holed up in the home at 9 p.m.


Just before noon Wednesday, Chandler said Sacramento police received a call of a disturbance between a male and a female. Shortly after 3:30 p.m., police met with the woman at a different location away from the home.

At least two police officers — including O’Sullivan — accompanied the woman to the home on the 200 block of Redwood Avenue to help her gather belongings shortly after 5:30 p.m.

“While our officers were on scene, one of our officers was shot,” Chandler said. “The officer went down in the (back)yard of a residence. Due to the suspect being armed with a rifle, and actively shooting… our officers maintained cover in safe positions until we were able to get an armored vehicle in the area.”

Shortly before 7 p.m., officers used the armored vehicle to rescue the officer from the backyard, Chandler said.

Chandler said police have “preliminary information” on who they believe the suspect is, but did not name him.

Negotiators were on the scene, but Chandler said police had not spoken to the suspect. Police said the suspect was firing the rifle nearly two hours after he shot the police officer, prompting a “very, very big perimeter” around the scene.

“A rifle is a very dangerous weapon. When someone is firing a rifle, it can go a long distance,” Chandler said. “We do not want anybody else being hurt.”

The suspect has continued shooting from the home and police have also fired weapons at the home. The woman who was moving out was not injured, police said.

“She is with us and she is safe,” Chandler said. The suspect is believed to to holed up in the home alone, he said.

Chandler said the shooting was a “unique” critical incident for responding Sacramento police officers and investigators with other law enforcement agencies.

“Anytime you have a suspect firing a weapon at officers, multiple times — and again, the first shots were fired at 6:10 p.m. and still firing shortly after 8 o’clock for at least a two hour span,” Chandler said. “Obviously the incident is not over yet. Our priority now is that we take every safety precaution to ensure that no other officers are shot and also nobody else in our community is shot.”

It’s unclear if anyone else was injured in the shooting on Wednesday night.

Lauren Hernández and Dustin Gardiner are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: lauren.hernandez@sfchronicle.com; dustin.gardiner@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @LaurenPorFavor; @dustingardiner

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