Hero Down: El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy Peter Herrera Murdered By Gunman
El Paso, TX – El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Herrera died in the line of duty on Sunday, more than two days after a felon repeatedly shot him during a traffic stop.
The incident began at about 1:50 a.m. on March 22, when Deputy Herrera made a traffic stop for headlight and registration violations on Chicken Ranch Road in San Elizario, according to KFOX.
Deputy Herrera ordered the two occupants out of the vehicle, at which point 27-year-old Facundo Chavez immediately opened fire, FOX News reported.
Investigators estimated Chavez fired his weapon approximately 15 times, according to the El Paso Times.
The deputy was struck multiple times, including one shot to the head, KTSM reported.
"It was a very violent and unprovoked attack against the deputy. The deputy never even had the chance to draw his weapon," Sheriff Wiles said.
Chavez tossed his gun and took off on foot with a woman who had been with him in the suspect vehicle, according to KFOX.
They hid in a shed down the street, but were arrested shortly thereafter, KTSM reported.
Deputy Herrera was rushed to a hospital, where he underwent surgery, according to FOX News.
He remained in critical condition, but was wearing a ballistic vest and was initially expected to survive his wounds, officials said on Friday.
Deputy Herrera passed away at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sheriff Wiles said during a press conference, according to KTSM.
“He was a great man who was looked up to by many," the sheriff said. "We suffered a tremendous loss today. Not just his family, but each and every member of this agency and the community as a whole."
Chavez has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and capital murder of a peace officer, KTSM reported.
Sheriff Wiles said he will be asking for the death penalty.
According to court records, Chavez also recently failed to appear at a recent trial for a domestic violence charge.
He was wanted for criminal mischief, delivery of marijuana, and assault of a family member at the time of the traffic stop, the El Paso Times reported.
Sheriff Wiles said Chavez was also under investigation for another domestic violence case that allegedly occurred two days prior to the shooting.
The victim in that incident was the female passenger in Chavez’ vehicle, the sheriff said.
The female passenger with Chavez cooperated with investigators, and has been released from custody, FOX News reported.
Sheriff Wiles said that Deputy Herrera worked for the El Pasco County Sheriff’s Office for 11 years, and served the past five or six years as a deputy, KTSM reported.
Community members and fellow officers turned out in droves to donate blood, financial assistance, and other means of support in the wake of the shooting, Sheriff Wiles said.
A blood drive arranged to help the wounded deputy received such a heavy response that they ran out of collection bags, KVIA reported.
Deputy Herrera underwent additional surgeries, but was responsive and “very alert” in the days before his tragic death, Sheriff Wiles said.
“Quite frankly, we thought he was doing well, and this is a shock to us. Very unexpected,” he told reporters. “Even though we knew his injuries were severe, we were just praying and hoping for the best, and it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Deputy Herrera leaves behind his wife, Ashley.
“Our hearts are heavy and there are no words to help his family in this difficult time,” the El Paso Fallen Officers Memorial Foundation said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “We ask that you keep his family and the El Paso County Sheriff's Department in your prayers. Heaven has gained another warrior. God speed Deputy Herrera. We got watch from here.”
A GoFundMe has been set up for Deputy Herrera’s family HERE.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of El Paso County Deputy Peter Herrera, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Deputy Peter Herrera, your life mattered.