Day-Long Standoff Ends With Arrest After Man Shoots Three DC Police Officers


Image courtesy of WJLA

By Patrick D. Lewis

Three police officers were hospitalized after being shot by a man in Southeast D.C. on Wednesday, February 14. The shooting began a standoff between the suspect and the police that lasted for over twelve hours.

Around 7:30 am, members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Criminal Apprehension Unit and animal control officers with the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) went to the 5000 block of Hanna Place, Southeast, to serve a warrant for Cruelty to Animals charges. 

The suspect, Stephen Rattigan, 46, who also goes by Julius James, was wanted on charges of abusing a number of dogs he owned, keeping them inside and punching them in the face. 

When officers approached the door and announced themselves, Rattigan fired on them through the door, hitting three officers in the leg. A fourth officer was injured but not shot. All four officers were then hospitalized. A major police and rescue response was initiated, which included the deployment of negotiators and of the Emergency Response Team (ERT), MPD’s special weapons and tactics unit. 

ERT and negotiators established a perimeter and began speaking to Rattigan by phone. The conversation continued for over twelve hours, during which Rattigan shot at the officers several times from his windows. After 9:00 pm, he surrendered to officers and was arrested without further incident.

Rattigan is now charged, in addition to the animal cruelty warrant, with three counts of Assault On A Police Officer With Intent to Kill and with three counts of Possession of a Firearm During A Crime of Violence. Additional charges may be pending. Rattigan does not appear to have a criminal history. Also, it is not clear if he legally owned the gun he used in the incident. 

Humane Rescue Alliance, in a statement, said they found and removed 31 dogs from the suspect’s house. All of the dogs have been seized by HRA and are receiving medical care and shelter. 

The three officers who were shot have all been released from the hospital and are expected to recover.

The incident has initiated a fierce debate about policing in D.C., which started when Greggory Pemberton, head of the D.C. Police Union, told WJLA that he blamed the D.C. City Council for the violent incident. He said MPD is “short 500 police officers because of the city council’s comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Act, which completely eliminates police officers’ rights and undermines their ability to do their job.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and a couple of council members expressed their support for police and for the need to better fund the agency; the Police Union, though, was quick to point out that the vast majority of the council did not comment on the incident. WJLA reported that Council Chairman Phil Mendleson said that linking the shooting to D.C. legislation is “complete nonsense.”

At a press conference, Chief Smith expressed her support for Secure DC, one of several pieces of legislation making its way through the Council, especially for the parts of it that seek to increase jail time for gun crimes.

Rattigan is due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on February 29.

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