Asheville, N.C. (WLOS) — Investigators said four Asheville police officers were injured by a blast that went off no more than a foot away from them while they were on patrol Saturday.
The officers had to have metal shrapnel removed from their skin after someone threw an explosive device at them.
It happened about 9:45 p.m. as Housing Unit officers were patrolling Livingston Apartments on foot.
Officers said while checking around some buildings they noticed sudden movement, followed almost immediately by a blast near their heads.
They believe it was one person who intentionally attacked them.
"It was real dark, and all they saw was a quick silhouette over near the bushes and then it disappeared," APD Sgt. Brien Griffin said. "So, they were not able to get any identification. But there definitely was someone in the area."
According to Griffin, bomb squad officials said the explosion likely came from a commercial-grade firework, the type manufactured to create a splash of color.
Griffin, who heads up APD's Public Housing Unit, said the sudden explosion was a shock.
"Definitely confusion and disorientation. They weren't sure at first if they might've been gunshots. Two of them said they drew their guns," Griffin said.
The officers took a defensive stance, called for backup and waited for EMS to arrive and treat the officers who had been hit.
"Due to the shrapnel that came from the device, there is some in them," griffin said. "So, they're doing some medical followups on that and some scans, and then they'll figure out, medically, what they need to do to remove those, or if they're going to remove those."
At this point, APD is canvassing the neighborhood, trying to get information about who might've ambushed the officers. Griffin said, no matter what, patrols in the area will not stop.
"This is concerning, however it will not deter us from continuing that foot patrol in that community policing," he said.
If anyone has any information on this incident, they are asked to contact the Asheville Police Department at (828) 252-1110 or Buncombe County Crime Stoppers at (828) 255-5050.