NORTH TOLEDO, Ohio-- An early morning shooting has claimed the life of a Toledo Police vice detective. It happened in the 1400th block of Ontario, near Bush, in north Toledo.

In a Wednesday morning news conference, Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre says 35-year-old Detective Keith Dressel, officer Todd Miller, and detective William Bragg stopped two people on Ontario Street around 2:00am. The preliminary investigation shows the officers may have interrupted some kind of drug deal.

Navarre says both suspects appeared young, and the officers at first thought they were dealing with curfew violators.

As the officers got out of their car and identified themselves, Navarre says the two suspects ran away. One, a 19-year-old man, was taken into custody right away. Dressel chased the other, believed to be a 15-year-old male. Navarre says Dressel confronted the boy, and shots were exchanged.

A single bullet hit Dressel in the chest. Navarre says other police units rushed to the scene almost instantly, and started giving Dressel first aid. Rescuers took him to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead at 2:36am.

Navarre says Dressel was able to return fire, but it's not clear if the suspect was hit.

"It's been 36 1/2 years since we lost one of our family," said Navarre in the news conference. "It is truly a very sad day for the Toledo Police Department and the city of Toledo." Navarre did not take questions at the news conference.

A team of officers is still scouring the neighborhood where it happened looking for the shooter. "Officers have been searching for this individual since 2:00 this morning. We have searched a number of houses based on leads that we've received, and we will continue to do that," said Navarre.

The chief also said the department has assembled a team of 24 officers that will begin an area search. Police have recovered a gun in the neighborhood where the shooting happened. They believe the gun was owned by the 19-year-old suspect, but not the other suspect. That's one of the things searchers will try to find.

Officer Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, also spoke at the news conference. Choking back his emotions, he said the thoughts and prayers of Toledo officers are with Dressel's wife and two young children. "Keith was a hero," Wagner said. "He gave his life doing a job he enjoyed and was highly professional at. He's a good friend of mine, and he'll be missed by many."

Wagner went on to say that the union has assembled a team of grief counselors at the TPPA union hall for officers.

Spokesman Brian Schwartz also spoke at the news conference on behalf of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who is currently in Miami, Florida for the US Conference of Mayors. In part, Finkbeiner's statement said:

"I learned at 4:00am from Chief of Staff Bob Reinbolt of the tragedy involving officer Keith Dressel, beloved husband and father, and a valued member of the Toledo Police Department. The senselessness of this loss weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of his fellow officers as well as all of his professional friends and colleagues in the city of Toledo, and our 300,000 citizens.

We have been fortunate to not have experienced the loss of one of Toledo's finest since 1970, when Officer William Miscannon was gunned down on Dorr Street. Seems profoundly senseless that such a loss could occur.

It very sadly reflects the times in which we live and the affects of drugs on our society. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dressel family, close friends and family, and fellow officers on the Toledo Police Department. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as well."

Dressel was first hired as a Toledo Police officer in 1993. Navarre says his current assignment was in the vice/narcotics bureau. Navarre says he also worked in field operations and communications. His personnel file says he was commended for bravery in 1998, when he ran into a burning building on Bancroft, and helped save an elderly man from the fire.

Dressel is survived by his wife and two children, ages 6 and 4.

The last time a Toledo Police officer was killed in the line of duty was September, 18, 1970. Patrolman William Miscannon was shot and killed during a turbulent time in Toledo when race relations were very strained. Miscannon was just 33-years-old and the father of four.

A suspect was arrested for Miscannon's murder, and he went on trial twice, but each time the case ended with a hung jury.

The web site Ohio's Fallen Officers says a total of 31 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the city of Toledo. The site says Ohio ranks 5th in the nation for deaths in the line of duty.