Police Officer Shooting Update

Star Corporal Martin White
Star Corporal Martin White

UPDATE: Authorities say that, while White remains in critical condition, he is improving this morning. He is concious and recognizing those around him.

A 22-year Savannah police veteran is fighting for his life this evening after being shot while on duty. Star Corporal Martin White was sitting in his patrol car in the Eckerd's parking lot on Habersham Street at 61st when police say an unknown person came up and shot him.

"After the initial call went out and the initial rescue, numerous officers who heard about it voluntarily showed up,  called other investigators to assist in the investigation," said Chief Dan Flynn.

White was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the neck. He called for help and police and ambulance crews arrived shortly after. He was taken to Memorial Health and underwent surgery this morning. Doctors say he is now in the intensive care unit in critical condition. No arrests have been made and police are asking the community for help.

Word spread quickly about the shooting in the neighborhood around Habersham and 61st Street. People who work in the nearby shopping center still can't believe it. Workers and people in the neighborhood are feeling uneasy knowing that of all people, a police officer was shot and a gunman is still on the loose.

Business is back to normal at the Time Saver Convenience store. Pink paint in the parking lot is the only visible sign of what happened this morning. Cindy Young of Time Saver says her overnight clerk told her he felt safe early this morning seeing an officer across the street.

"He said because he saw the police out here he was cleaning the outside of the windows, but he heard gun shots and ran in the store," Young told us.

The worker walked outside when the officer pulled up, only to find out the officer was the victim. It's left Time Saver employees feeling uneasy.

"It makes me scared," said Young. "I work nights sometimes by myself. I don't want nobody to do nothing to me or to none of my employees."

Star Corporal White didn't even have to be there. He was about 100 yards outside of his precinct, and from what local business workers are telling us, he was probably doing what he normally does on his overnight shift, looking out for them.

"He always come in late nights, come to check on me," said Young.

"It's scary, because I have people coming in here while it's still dark outside," said  Jennifer Goethe, who works at Clary's Restaurant. "And I feel bad because the police officers sit over there waiting for my employees to get here in the morning, to make sure they're okay.

But now it's their friend and protector who's fighting for his life. Those who work and live in this neighborhood say they won't rest easy until the gunman is caught. They're having a hard time accepting that such a caring officer was shot. One officer told us Star Corporal White actually had his Bible sitting next to him when he was gunned down in his patrol car.

Star Corporal White is 54 years old. He joined the Savannah Police Department in 1981 and is the father of eight children. He has served as a beat officer for the patrol division and as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

"I live in this neighborhood and have grown up here," said resident Lisa Linton. "Incidents are always happening here"

Business owners tell us this are is sort of a hotspot for crime, but they had always felt safe with Star Corporal White looking after them as they went to work in the wee hours in the morning.

Reported by: Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com