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The showdown came after the fatal shooting of a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

So is the police officer dead or did he shoot someone else dead?

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That cannot be “a police” who is dead, because police is always plural. – tchrist Apr 19 '13 at 17:22
Thanks; corrected. – qazwsx Apr 19 '13 at 17:42

This means that the officer was fatally shot. If they meant to say that the officer fatally shot someone else, they might say "The showdown came after the fatal shooting by a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

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But intrinsically, does "shooting of <somebody>" have ambiguity in English? – qazwsx Apr 19 '13 at 17:44
No, "shooting of" always refers to the person who was shot, at least in my experience. – Luke Apr 19 '13 at 17:54
This is more general. "Object was verbed" => "The verbing of object", when talking about a specific instance, and sometimes about multiple or continued happeningss, e.g. "The cattle was branded" => "After the branding of the cattle, it was released to graze.". Technically, verbing is a sort of a stand-in for an "actual" noun, and such noun is preferably used when available. "The girl was murdered" => "The murder of the girl", not "The murdering". This happens mostly with words where the verb and the noun are the same (like "murder"). The "of" still stands and resolves any ambiguity. – htmlcoderexe May 20 at 18:32

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