Dallas, TX – Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander was fatally shot in the line of duty on Tuesday, as he attempted to arrest a shoplifting suspect who had a felony theft warrant.
Officer Santander, 27, succumbed to his injuries at 8:11 a.m. on Wednesday, police said.
Dallas PD Officer Crystal Almeida, 26, and Home Depot loss-prevention officer Scott Painter, 26, were also shot by the gunman, and were listed in critical condition on Wednesday morning, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the death of Officer Santander, 27, during a scheduled city council meeting, KTVT reported.
“It is with great sadness that we must inform you that Officer Rogelio Santander, Badge#934, passed away at 8:11 this morning from his injuries,” Rawlings said. “We ask that you please continue to pray for officer Santander’s family and our department as we all try to cope with this loss.”
The officers and Painter all underwent surgery after the shooting. A source told KTVT that Officer Santander was shot in the back of the head, while Officer Almeida was shot in the face.
Painter was shot twice, his family told The Dallas Morning News.
Officer Santander and Officer Almeida joined the Dallas police force on the exact same day, approximately three years ago. They went on to attend the police academy together, and were later stationed at the department’s Northeast Division.
"He is what we want as a Dallas Police Officer,” Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata told WFAA. “He's what the citizens expect as a Dallas Officer. His family raised him right.”
On Wednesday night, the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe held a special mass in the slain officer’s honor. The church bell tolled 27 times – representing each year of Officer Santander’s life, KTVT reported.
The incident happened at the Home Depot on Forest Central at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, when Painter noticed 29-year-old Armando Luis Juarez acting suspiciously inside the store.
The suspected shoplifter was detained by an off-duty Dallas police officer who was at the scene. The off-duty officer then learned that Juarez had an active felony theft warrant, so he contacted Officers Santander and Almeida to confirm the warrant status.
When the officers arrived, the off-duty Dallas officer went to Officer Santander’s patrol car to look at the warrant, and to confirm that Juarez was the same individual.
The off-duty officer was headed back to the Home Depot’s loss-prevention office, when he heard “shots fired” come across the police radio, The Dallas Morning News reported. He then found the officers and Painter lying on the ground with gunshot wounds.
Bodycam footage from one of the officers showed that Juarez drew a handgun as the officers tried to arrest him, court documents said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Juarez fled the scene in a white pickup truck, prompting an immediate manhunt.
Police spotted the suspect’s vehicle several hours later, and pursued Juarez and his female passenger until they cornered him in a residential neighborhood near the Dallas Love Field Airport, KTVT reported.
Juarez crashed into several vehicles and a fence during the pursuit, and at times drove through yards and over sidewalks, KDFW reported.
“We got our man,” Rawlings confirmed during a late-night news conference, according to KTVT.
“On behalf of the city council and citizens of Dallas, I want to thank our Dallas police tonight. They have taken a punch and they have come out fighting,” Rawlings added.
Juarez has been charged with aggravated assault in retaliation, aggravated assault on a public servant, and capital murder, and was being held on over $2 million bond, KTVT reported.
His female passenger was also taken into custody, but it was not clear whether or not she was facing any charges, KDFW reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Rogelio Santander, your life mattered.