The officer, Antwan Toney, died after he was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, according to the police department. He had been on the Gwinnett police force for three years.
Toney and other officers were responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked near Shiloh Middle School on Saturday afternoon, police said.
When officers approached, the suspects fired through their vehicle’s window, hitting Toney before driving off, said police spokesman Jake Smith. At least one officer returned fire, but it’s unknown whether the suspects were hit or injured.
The suspects crashed their vehicle a short time later, and as many as four people ran from the scene.
Law enforcement officers, helicopters, SWAT teams and K-9 units swarmed the area to search for the suspects, checking nearby buildings and wooded areas. DeKalb County police were called in to help.
Gwinnett police said they have interviewed a few people about their involvement, but no one is charged with a crime.
A witness described one of the suspects to police as a 6-foot-tall man with long dreadlocks, green sweatpants and a grey T-shirt. Descriptions of the other suspects weren’t available.
Toney, a member of the Gwinnett Police Department’s Uniform Division, was working his shift on patrol Saturday.
At a news conference Saturday night, Police Chief Butch Ayers spoke about the slain officer, saying he was known as “very jovial, very dedicated to his job and to serving his community.”
Toney is the first Gwinnett officer killed in the line of duty since 1993, Ayers said. Toney is from southern California, where his immediate family still lives.
In 1993, Officer Chris Magill was killed along Interstate 85 by a drunk driver.
Three Gwinnett officers were gunned down in 1964 when they were investigating a "suspicious activity" call in Duluth. The officers — Jerry Everett, Marvin Gravitt and Ralph Davis — were handcuffed together and shot with their own weapons.
Forty-five officers have been killed by gunfire nationwide so far in 2018, the same number as were killed nationally in all of 2017, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Toney is the fourth Georgia officer killed by gunfire this year. Six Georgia officers were killed by guns in all of 2017.
The shooting came after three separate officer-involved shootings in Georgia on Thursday that left two men dead.
In one of the previous shootings, a state patrolman was shot at close range along I-75 South in Bartow County but survived because he was wearing a body armor vest. Two troopers returned fire and killed the original shooter, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
The other shooting death occurred in Monroe when a man carrying a replica Thompson submachine gun allegedly pointed it at an officer, according to the GBI.
In the third incident, a suspect shot at police in Richland but no one died.
— AJC staff writer Christian Boone contributed to this article. Please return to AJC.com for updates.