ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida police officer was shot and killed near downtown St. Petersburg, becoming the city's third officer to be killed in the line of duty in less than a month.
St. Petersburg Police said the shooting happened after two officers were called to the area around 10:30 p.m. Monday to investigate a report of a suspicious person who may have been a prowler.
Officer David Crawford spotted the suspect and got out of his vehicle to approach him. At 10:37 p.m., another officer, Donald J. Ziglar, reported an exchange of gunfire and told dispatchers an officer was down.
Ziglar found Crawford lying on the pavement near his cruiser, police said. He had been shot multiple times at close range. Crawford, a 25-year-veteran, was pronounced dead at Bayfront Medical Center. He was 46.
Authorities said there was no evidence that the suspect was injured during the exchange of gunfire and an intense manhunt was ongoing Tuesday. A helicopter and canines were being used in the search.
Pinellas County Schools announced that a middle school and two elementary schools near the scene would be closed Tuesday and students were being notified to attend nearby schools.
"It hurts," Police Chief Chuck Harmon said at a news conference outside the hospital early Tuesday. "It stings. This killer has taken someone very precious to us, a member of our family."
Anthony Ciecalone, 26, told the St. Petersburg Times he was sitting on his porch drinking a glass of wine when he heard gunshots. He said it sounded like the shots came from two different guns. Ciecalone said he also saw a man running away and then saw a car peel out of the area.
Just last month, two St. Petersburg police officers -- Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz and Thomas Baitinger -- were killed as they helped serve a warrant on a man with a long criminal history.
"This city has been through hell," Mayor Bill Foster said at the news conference. "Our hearts are broken."
Harmon said he could see the look of shock on the faces of his officers.
"As I saw their faces tonight it was ... not again," Harmon said.