I was caught up with the word, “the bloody altercation” in the following statement of New York Times (April 25) article titled “Officer’s killing spurred pursuit in Boston attack.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/us/officers-killing-spurred-pursuit-in-boston-attack.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130425&_r=0
-It was just a little after that routine interaction, the police said, that a pair of men approached Officer Collier’s squad car from behind and shot him to death, in what some law enforcement officials said appeared to have been a failed attempt to steal his gun.
-The killing of Officer Collier, who was mourned Wednesday at a campus memorial at which Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke, was the first bloody altercation in a nearly 24-hour chain of violent events that left one of the brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings dead and ended with the capture of the other.
Was there an enough time to allow an “altercation” when the culprits approached the squad car from behind and shot the officer to death? Was the (noisy) argument "in public"?
As I'm unfamiliar with the word, altercation, I consulted with dictionaries.
OED defines “altercation” as “a noisy argument or disagreement, especially in public.”
To me the showdown of the campus officer and Boston Marathon bombers was more than an “altercation” though it being preceded by the adjective, “bloody.”
CED defines it as “a loud argument or disagreement” as well.
So my simple question: Is the word, “bloody altercation” really pertinent to describe the critical scene where the culpits shot the officer no sooner than they approached the squad car from behind? In other word, is it 'phisically' possible for both the officer and culpits to get engaged in "an altercation" in such an instant?
By the way, the New York Daily News of the same day uses the word “Confrontation” for describing the killing scene:
Two people embrace in front of a memorial to MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed during a confrontation with the suspects in the bombings of Boston Marathon.