Houston officer shot, 1 of 4 suspects dead after crime spree

Chief Art Acevedo said one of the suspects was shot and killed in the exchange of fire, two other men were in custody and police were searching for the fourth

By Julian Gill, Jay R. Jordan and Michelle Iracheta
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — A violent crime spree late Thursday night ended with a Houston police officer seriously wounded and one of four robbery suspects dead from police gunfire.

The 29-year-old officer, a five-year veteran, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and remained in surgery at Memorial Hermann Hospital into early Friday morning. Doctors wrapped up the surgery later Friday morning, and the officer is currently listed in stable condition, according to Houston Police Officers' Union President Joe Gamaldi.

His identity was not immediately released.

The crime spree reportedly started shortly before 10 p.m. at a Valero gas station in the 5800 block of Scott Street, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

The four suspects allegedly stole a man's 2003 Chevy Tahoe at gunpoint, said Acevedo, who earlier had been at nearby Texas Southern University for the Democratic presidential debate. The SUV was low on gas, and responding officers later found it abandoned in the 9200 block of Tierwester.

Police believed the suspects fled on foot. Minutes later, police said the same men robbed a priest at gunpoint in a nearby parking lot. One of the suspects twice pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge, Acevedo said.

The suspects then allegedly beat the priest, took his cellphone and fled the scene, he said.

Police said a third incident may have been reported in the 3700 block of Odin Court, but Acevedo did not elaborate.

At 10:24 p.m., Houston police officers spotted one of the suspects and took them into custody. Two minutes later, a second was seen running in the area, and police officers gave chase.

A gun battle ensued between a suspect and at least one officer near Scott and Tristan streets, Acevedo said. Another officer possibly fired their weapon, but Acevedo could not confirm that information.

The suspect was pronounced dead on the scene, while the officer was transported to Memorial Hermann by ambulance.

The injured officer's father is a 42-year veteran of the force, Acevedo said. He is also engaged to a fellow officer.

Acevedo said he has known the injured officer since the officer graduated from UT Austin. Acevedo used to lead the Austin Police Department.

"So this is close to me," the chief said.

In addition to the dead suspect, two others were arrested while a fourth remained at large as of early Friday morning.

Acevedo took the shooting as an opportunity to talk about gun violence across the country and the need for universal background checks.

I'm tired of police officers -- this year we've had more police officers murdered by gunfire in this country than by accidents," Acevedo said. "I'm tired of just prayers instead of action like my mayor and other mayors."

He criticized legislators who offer up prayers instead of action.

"I don't want to hear from politicians tomorrow about how much they care about my cop," he said. "If they are not here to talk about solutions, don't bother showing up. We don't need you here if you are just going to say that universal background check that help keep gun in the hands of law-abiding citizens of sound mind is not for Texas or this country. I don't need to hear from you."

The shooting was reported just one mile south of the Democratic presidential debate at TSU. Several members of the Houston police command staff, including Acevedo, were at the event when the shooting was reported.

The names of the suspects and their charges have not been released. Police are scheduled to issue another update at 9 a.m. Friday.


©2019 the Houston Chronicle

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