For the first time since the Bay Area Rapid Transit police formed 42 years ago, an on-duty officer has been killed—and the death of Sgt. Tom Smith Jr., 42, apparently came at the hands of a colleague. In what's being painted as a tragic accident, the fatal shooting happened during a search of a Dublin, Calif., apartment belonging to a suspected robber who allegedly committed crimes on BART property. Except John Henry Lee has been in custody for a week, and the apartment was empty. After officers forced their way in, "one officer fired a shot which fatally struck another officer," says a sergeant with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was either accidental or target misidentification."
Details of the shooting remain hazy, the Chronicle notes, though insiders said the shooter was Officer Michael Maes, a 10-year veteran. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death, the San Jose Mercury News reports. "We ask everyone to give us a chance to catch our breath and grieve," said BART police chief Kenton Rainey. Smith had been on the force for 20 years; his wife is a BART officer and he has two brothers who are policemen. An independent auditor recently said the force had improved following concerns about oversight, policy, and training, the Chronicle notes. (Read more San Francisco stories.)