US rookie cop killed

  • 29/02/2016

By Ben Nuckols

On her first day on the job, Officer Ashley Guindon responded to a call that could have become routine: a domestic disturbance in a well-kept suburban neighbourhood.

But something had already gone terribly wrong inside the northern Virginia home of Army Sergeant Ronald Hamilton, and Ms Guindon's brief time with the Prince William County police department came to a horrific end.

Mr Hamilton opened fire on Ms Guindon and two of her fellow officers, killing her and leaving the others seriously wounded, Police Chief Stephan Hudson said on Sunday (local time).

Standing next to the county's top elected official and chief prosecutor, Mr Hudson was stone-faced at a media conference as he lauded Ms Guindon's bravery, intelligence and compassion.

He offered no details about what might have provoked the gunman, who worked at the Pentagon and, neighbours say, was about to be transferred to Italy.

The fight on Saturday afternoon between Hamilton, 32, and his wife, Crystal, 29, had been going throughout the day at their Woodbridge home, but it escalated after she called 911, Hudson said.

Mr Hamilton fatally shot his wife between her call to police and arrival of the officers, who were shot just after they arrived at his front door, he said.

Mr Hamilton then emerged from his front door to surrender as additional officers arrived. The couple's 11-year-old son was home at the time and is being cared for by relatives.

Ms Guindon, 28, died at a hospital, where the other injured officers - Jesse Hempen, 31, and David McKeown, 33 - were being treated on Sunday.

Ms Guindon, a former Marine Corps reservist with a master's degree in forensic science, went through training with the department in 2015 but left for personal reasons, Mr Hudson said.

She rejoined in 2016 and was sworn in on Friday.

"We were struck by her passion to do this job," Mr Hudson said.

The county's chief prosecutor, Paul Ebert, said he would likely seek the death penalty against Hamilton, who was being held without bond on charges including capital murder, first-degree murder and malicious wounding and was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Ms Guindon's death was not the first tragedy to strike her family. Her father, David, killed himself the day after he returned home from Iraq, where he served with the New Hampshire Air National Guard. He was buried with full military honours on August 26, 2004.

Ashley was his only child. She was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the family later moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire, her grandmother said.

"This is really a shock to us," Dorothy Guindon said. "Ashley was such a nice person."