2 cops critically injured in shooting in Flint suburb expected to recover, sheriff says

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

Two officers critically injured in a shooting involving a gunman who was killed in a Flint suburb Tuesday are expected to recover, the Genesee County sheriff said Wednesday.

It was a harrowing experience for Burton police, which hadn't seen a shooting of an officer on duty in 38 years, but law enforcement, medical teams and the community have come together to support the officers, the mayor said.

"The outpouring has been tremendous, nationwide," Mayor Duane Haskins said. "… Just keep the families in your thoughts and prayers.”

The shooting in Burton involved a "violent confrontation" after a chase on foot, the sheriff said.

A Burton police officer and sheriff's deputy responded to a shooting in which the suspect was shot and killed by police near the intersection of Columbine Avenue and Bristol Road on Tuesday, the prosecutor said. Two officers received critical injuries when the suspect fired at  them, the prosecutor said.

Burton Police Department patrolman Dalton Christie and Genesee County Sheriff's Office deputy Brandon Fachting responded to a 911 call at about 2 p.m. about a person with a handgun, said Sheriff Christopher Swanson in a press conference Tuesday.

Officers found the suspect near the intersection of Columbine and Bristol, Swanson said. Swanson identified the suspect Wednesday as Brendan Pinkston, 23, of Burton.

“A foot chase ensued. There was a point where there was a violent confrontation,” the sheriff said. “The deputy was shot. The Burton officer was shot. … The suspect is dead on scene.” 

Brendan Pinkston, 23, was killed Tuesday in a shooting in Burton that left two officers critically injured.

The shooting took place a short distance from where the officers first encountered the Pinkston, and the incident was over in under 10 minutes, Swanson said at a second press conference Tuesday night. 

Both officers had less than two years' experience on the job, the sheriff said.

Pinkston tried to scale a fence that then collapsed on him, said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.

When the officer and deputy tried pulling the fence off Pinkston, he opened fire. Police returned fire, Leyton said.

"We don't have any indication of who he was looking for or what he was looking at," Swanson said Wednesday of Pinkston before police encountered him. 

Two deputies took the wounded officers to Hurley Medical Center in Flint in the back of a patrol car, Swanson said. They had help from officers in the area who closed off blocks and cleared the route to the hospital. 

"... Such a great (trauma) team came together to fight for the lives of these officers,” the sheriff said, adding that after three hours in surgery, Fachting was transferred to the intensive care unit and "is going to survive." 

Christie's condition was upgraded to "fair" Tuesday, and he was expected to recover. When Burton Mayor Duane Haskins visited him in the hospital after the incident, he said Christie "still had a smile on his face, and looked at everybody and said 'It'll be OK.'"

The last time an officer was shot in the line of duty in Burton was in 1983, Haskins said. The officer was Terry Lee Thompson, 32, who was shot and killed while responding to a burglary alarm at a local store, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. 

Police said a suspect tried to scale a fence during a chase when the fence collapsed on him. They attempted to pull the fence off of him when he opened fire, the prosecutor said. Police returned fire, killing the suspect, he said.

"The outpouring has been tremendous, nationwide," Haskins said. "… Just keep the families in your thoughts and prayers.”

Burton police Lt. Kevin Kissel, who responded to the scene, said the incident was chaotic but thanked Burton residents who had reached out to help with the investigation and offer support to the injured officers. 

Leyton's office was helping the department with search warrants to gather evidence, including from Pinkston's car and home, and detectives had been sent from Oakland and Shiawassee counties to help, Swanson said.