ASHLAND, Va. - The Prince George's County Police Officer killed during an ambush attack on a police station graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland back in 2009. The Maryland officer was struck by friendly fire.
An autopsy on Jacai Colson showed he was "inadvertently shot by a fellow responding officer during the gunbattle," police said a day after the attack.
Colson played one year of football at Randolph-Macon, was active with community service groups, worked two jobs, and even studied abroad during his time on campus, according to those who knew him during his college days.
He worked in the college's marketing and communications department for two and a half years. His work was mostly with their web team.
“I will remember him always for his warmth, for his great smile, for his dedication and passion to serving his community, and for paying the ultimate sacrifice. But doing something he loved. I think that’s a great lesson for all of us," said Anne Marie Lauranzon, Director of Marketing and Communications for Randolph-Macon.
Lauranzon said she worked closely and daily with Colson. She said he was always worked to include other students in any project he was working on and was a true leader.
“Very kind, always receptive to anyone he met. He greeted you with a sincerity, a very authentic person. He was just a remarkable young man," said Lauranzon.
"Jacai was a man of outstanding character who had a passion for serving others," said R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren in a news release. "He was well-known and respected across our campus for his leadership and his enormous dedication to pursuing his dream to serve in law enforcement. By all accounts, Jacai was an exceptional police officer, serving the people of Maryland with exemplary commitment and bravery. Such a terrible loss. Our hearts are broken and we send our deepest, most heartfelt condolences to Jacai's family, friends and colleagues."
Funeral arrangements are pending, the college said.
The suspects are in custody
The suspect who shot at the building was identifed as 22-year-old Michael Ford. He is in custody and remains hospitalized. His brothers, Elijah Ford and Malik Ford, are also in custody
Three men have been arrested after an "unprovoked attack" on a police station in Prince George's, MD, that resulted in Colson's death.
All three will be charged with second-degree murder, six counts of attempted first-degree murder, nine counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a felony and additional charges, according to police.
Police said the shooting was recorded by the Ford brothers. Authorities do not believe Michael Ford expected to survive.
He dictated his last will and testament immediately before the attack, police said. Ford's injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
In addition to firing at officers and the station, Ford fired at passing cars and at an ambulance, police said.
Colson, a four-year veteran of the Prince George's County Police Department, would have celebrated his 29th birthday this week.
"He took action and in doing so demonstrated extreme heroism because it was his actions that allowed officers to take a position where they could intervene and neutralize the threat," Chief Hank Stawinski said about the fallen officer.
When asked about a possible motive, the chief said the attack was unprovoked.
"This is about nothing," he said.
Colson was assigned to the department's narcotic enforcement division and had worked as an undercover officer -- though that had nothing to do with his killing, Stawinski said.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Teletchea described the attack as unprecedented and unacceptable.
He remembered Colson as a "son, brother, friend, police officer, and a hero" -- someone with an infectious smile and tremendous personality.
"Jacai could light up a room. He lit up everybody's life he touched. He made a decision several years ago to make a difference in the world when he joined the Prince George's County Police Department," Teletchea said. "He made a difference everyday he was here, and he made the difference and saved lives yesterday."
In a statement, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he was shocked and saddened by Colson's killing. He ordered that flags fly at half-staff in his memory.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch similarly mourned the officer's death, and called shooting at the station a "heinous act of violence and a cowardly crime."
"His tragic loss is a reminder of the threats that public safety officers face every day, and the dangers that they bravely confront, in every jurisdiction across the country. The Department of Justice will offer any possible aid to the Prince George's County community as they investigate this terrible crime, and we will continue to do all that we can to protect and support our officers and hold wrongdoers accountable," she said.