Aug. 24 (UPI) -- An Illinois State Police Trooper died from a shootout while executing a search warrant with other SWAT team members in a dangerous residential neighborhood in East St. Louis.
Trooper Nick Hopkins, 33, died at approximately 6:10 p.m. Friday, about 12 hours after gunfire, State Police said in a post on its website.
Three people were taken into custody, authorities said.
During the exchange of gunfire at the residence, Hopkins was struck and transported to St. Louis University Hospital, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
"It is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that we inform you of the death of Trooper Nicholas Hopkins," Acting Director Brendan Kelly said. "Trooper Hopkins laid down his life while protecting the citizens of this state. We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Hopkins and the ISP while we continue to grieve and work through this tragedy.
Hopkins was the first Illinois State Police trooper shot and killed since Virgil Lee Bensyl died attempting to arrest a suspect in 1988, authorities said.
Kelly described as Hopkins as "healthy as a horse" and that his organs would be donated to benefit as many as 40 people.
"Even at this dark moment, his light is shining," Kelly said of Hopkins at the news conference on Friday.
The 10-year veteran of the Illinois State Police, who spent the majority of time with the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, was a husband, a father of 4-year-old twins and an infant daughter, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith. Hopkins' father, Jim Hopkins, has served as an alderman in the Missouri city for 17 years with Smith.
The search warrant was executed "in a particularly dangerous area," said Steve Weinhoeft, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois.
"He was trying to make that community safer for every man, woman and child," Weinhoeft said.
Dorothy Burns, who lives about two blocks away, told the Post Dispatch: "All I heard is boom boom - two shots. Then it sounded like an explosion and I saw smoke like they were trying to smoke 'em out."
Burns, who has lived in the area for three years, added: "All I can say is they need to cut this violence out, because it's on my block."