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TPD: Two Officers Critical After Driver Opens Fire During Traffic Stop; Suspects In Custody

Tulsa Police Department
From left: Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler; U.S. Attorney Trent Shores; Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin; Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum; and ASL interpreter Glenna Cooper, at a June 29th press conference.

Two Tulsa Police Department officers are in critical condition, "fighting for their lives," following a shooting during a traffic stop early Monday morning, officials say.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, TPD Chief Wendell Franklin identified the officers as Sgt. Craig Johnson, a 15-year veteran, and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, who completed police training only last month and had been on patrol for just six weeks.

Franklin said Zarkeshan stopped a driver, identified as David Anthony Ware, 33, near Mingo and 21st St. around 3:25 Monday morning. Johnson was dispatched to the scene as a "backer" for Zarkeshan on the stop, Franklin said.

Franklin said Ware refused to exit his vehicle when instructed, leading to officers using a Taser and pepper spray. Ware then allegedly produced a handgun and shot both officers.

"The bullets found their mark, struck the officers, and the officers were critically injured," an emotional Franklin told reporters. "The officers went down, and the driver slowly walked away from the vehicle and got into a waiting vehicle that had arrived to the scene and drove away."

"That driver, David Anthony Ware, is a 33-year-old white male and he was taken into custody this morning" in Tulsa, Franklin said. "The accomplice, the driver that picked him up, was just taken into custody less than 10 minutes ago in the city of Broken Arrow. His name is Matt Hall, he is 29 years of age," Franklin said at the press conference, around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

"I stood before you several weeks ago and we talked about two missing children, and there was compassion from the community in the loss of those two children," Franklin said. "A few weeks later, I stood before you and sent out correspondence and there was hatred toward this department and hatred toward law enforcement. I stand before you today with two officers that are fighting for their lives. We need this community to come together."

"It's not just Tulsa -- as a nation," the chief continued. "I'm imploring you, I'm asking you, to pray, and I'm also asking for each and every one of you to support first responders, to support your law enforcement, supportall of those doing the jobs that you don't want to do. You ceded that power and that authority to us, and given us the ability so we are the professionals, we're the experts. And we understand what comes along with our job. We don't like it, but we understand. So today, this hits home, and it hits home pretty hard for us in law enforcement."

Bynum asked Tulsans to keep the families of the wounded officers in their thoughts and prayers, and to show appreciation to law enforcement.

"I would ask you, if you're going around town right now and you see a Tulsa police officer, tell them how much you appreciate them. I try to do that, and they don't hear it enough," Bynum said.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said his office has already filed charges against Ware.

"I hope we don't have to upgrade them" in the event of the death of one or both of the officers, he said.

Kunzweiler also stressed the importance of prayer.

"I started texting every single preacher that I know in this community," he said. "I asked them to pray for these officers. And to a person - Black, white, whatever skin color - those preachers said 'Thank you, I'm sorry, I'm praying right now.'"

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Trent Shores said his office is looking into pursuing federal firearms charges against Ware, and said that, as a national discussion of policing remains ongoing, ""this is a stark reminder of the dangers faced every day, every night, and on every shift by the men and women of law enforcement."

Franklin said that the department would not release information regarding on which hospital or hospitals are treating the officers, citing respect for the families' privacy. He said both officers' body cameras were recording the incident.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.