RICHMOND, Ind. (WISH) — Family, friends and strangers on Thursday were rallying around Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton.
The city of 35,800 people in east central Indiana is coming together to support the 28-year-old and her family as she continues to fight for her life after she was shot during a traffic stop on Wednesday night in Richmond.
Richmond Police Chief Michael Britt said in a Facebook post on Thursday night that Burton remained in extremely critical condition at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio. The post said in part, “Surgery has been performed and she is initially showing slight signs of responsiveness. She has not regained consciousness and is still fighting for her life.”
Cathy Hillard, the owner of Smiley’s Pub, said, “My heart sank. It’s devastating to our community.”
Brittney Cloyd, an employee at Whitewater Valley Rehabilitation, said, “This is a tragedy, and it’s rocked us all, so anything we can do to show our support (and) prayers. We’re thinking of Officer Burton and her family.”
Burton was shot multiple times after she and other officers made a traffic stop of a moped Wednesday night. Other officers shot at the suspect, Phillip M. Lee, 47, of Richmond, who fled on foot before he was apprehended a short time later.
Hillard said, “Our police and first responders, we have to support them. It’s just upsetting.”
Cloyd said Thursday that she was in “pure shock. I have family in law enforcement, so this hit very close to home for me. Every one of us here at Whitewater Valley Rehab has a family member or friend in law enforcement, so it was kind of hard to sleep last night.”
The Richmond Police Department has put up pictures of Burton and her police dog in the city and on their cars. According to police, she had worked in the department for four years and recently joined the force’s K-9 unit, which means she worked with a police dog.
Hillard said of Burton, “I just have enjoyed watching her continue to grow into the officer and the woman she is.”
According to Hillard, Burton attended Northeastern High School in Fountain City. She says Burton enjoys giving back to her community. “Very sweet, kind, and an extremely hard worker and loves her job and her community, and everyone please just pray.”
The Richmond Police Department also asked for prayers on Wednesday night for Burton and her family.
On Thursday, the Richmond Police Department shared on its Facebook page a post from Richmond City Employees Federal Credit Union. The organization will be taking donations for Burton.
Richmond is about a 75-minute drive east of downtown Indianapolis.
News 8’s Gregg Montgomery contributed to this report.
“I would like to bring everyone up to date on the tragic event that occurred last evening in our community. It has been a whirlwind 24 hours and many things have occurred. Firstly, Officer Seara Burton is still in extremely critical condition at a Dayton Hospital after suffering a gunshot wound to her head. Surgery has been performed and she is initially showing slight signs of responsiveness. She has not regained consciousness and is still fighting for her life. An arrest has been made by the great Troopers of the Indiana State Police, who responded to and took command of the scene. They are in command of the investigation so any additional information regarding the details of the incident will have to come from them. I feel it important to update everyone on the condition of my officer and my department.
“As you could imagine this event was traumatic to not only Off. Burton but to the many officers that responded to the scene to assist where they could. The critical injuring of our sister in blue was not easy to see. I have chosen to temporarily re-assign most officers involved with the incident to other duties, along with EAP to collect themselves.
“The City of Richmond is well protected and you will have a police response when needed. Along with the Indiana State Police handling the scene and investigation, their command staff committed to assign a group of I.S.P. Troopers to the City of Richmond to augment our responses for the next few days. If emergency services are needed, please don’t be surprised to see a Trooper show up. Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter and his agency have committed personnel to the City as well to ensure total coverage of our citizen’s needs. The City of Richmond will still have abundant law enforcement while we sort things out.
“Let me also mention the selfless outpouring of support, not only by our Law Enforcement brothers and sisters, but the outpouring of support from many members of our community, including local businesses. It has been truly heart- warming to witness the things I’ve seen and heard of today. This truly defines our communities’ interest in the well- being of their first responders and fellow citizens. For this, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
“I have been asked many times in the last 24 hours ‘what do you need’ and ‘what can I do to help’. All of our immediate needs have been met. What we need the most is your prayers for our brave Officer who is suffering at this moment.
“Obviously, Richmond Indiana is a community that cares, and I thank you! We will all get through this.Sincerely,Michael BrittChief of Police- Richmond IN
Richmond Police Chief Michael Britt, on Facebook at 8:19 p.m. Aug. 11, 2022
“The last several hours have felt like an eternity for our team as we’ve all struggled with the reality of this tragic event. Office Burton, her family, the Richmond Police Department, and our city team have received a tremendous outpouring of love and support from this community, local and state elected officials, and citizens from other cities around Indiana. Richmond has stepped up in droves to support our officers. Over the next week, you may see a larger presence of Indiana State Police in the city as they assist our department. I want to thank State Superintendent Doug Carter and our State police for their services during this difficult time. We thank everyone for your continued prayers and messages of solidarity and comfort. It means a lot right now, and we know our police department will continue to need your kindness in the days to come. Officer Burton is a brave young officer who put her life on the line daily so all of us could live in a safer community. Right now, she is in a difficult fight, and we are all fighting with her. If you are privileged to know Officer Burton, you know she is a strong, resilient woman, and it’s her strength and your prayers that will give her the best chance to win this fight. If you would like to show your support, a prayer vigil is being held at the South entrance of the City Building at 7 pm on Friday, August 12. We continue to be humbled by the service of our officers and their families to our community. We are a stronger community because of their commitment and dedication to all of us.”
Richmond Mayor Dave Show, a Democrat