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Indiana police officer found fatally shot in patrol car

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[July 07, 2014]  (Reuters) - An Indiana police officer was discovered fatally shot in his patrol car early Sunday, state police said.

Jeffrey Westerfield, who had served on the Gary Police Department for 19 years, was on duty when he was shot by an unknown assailant, an Indiana State Police official said.

State police, federal law enforcement and dozens of officers from Gary, a city located in the southeastern Chicago metropolitan area, have launched a manhunt for the suspect, the official said.

It was unclear if Westerfield was specifically targeted in the shooting, local officials said during a news conference Sunday. His body was found in his patrol car by a fellow officer around 5:50 a.m. local time.

"Any loss of life, particularly a police officer's loss of life, is devastating to a department, is devastating to a community," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. "We will to go through every legal measure to make sure that the person who is responsible for this is held accountable," she said.

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said Westerfield had responded to a call near where he was shot, but it was unclear if he made contact with anyone in the area.

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The last Gary police officer killed in the line of duty was in 2007, according to the Post Tribune. The officer's car crashed during a pursuit.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Marguerita Choy)

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