Midland, TX – Midland Police Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday, when he was shot by a homeowner while responding to a burglary alarm.
The incident took place at approximately 1:16 a.m., when Officer Heidelberg, 28, and Officer Victoria Allee responded to the 3300-block of Eagle Cove for a report of a burglary alarm, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported.
Officer Allee is currently a probationary officer, and Officer Heidelberg was her field training officer, KOSA reported.
When they arrived, the officers circled the outside of the residence on foot, and found nothing unusual, according to court documents.
That’s when Officer Heidelberg realized the front door of the home was not secured, and notified dispatch, KOSA reported.
Two other officers arrived at the scene just in time to “hear [Officer] Heidelberg announce Midland Police Department,” court documents read, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
Suddenly, a gunshot rang out.
One officer asked the other three if they were alright, and everyone responded that they were, KOSA reported.
He said he then heard a noise, and saw Officer Heidelberg lying face down on the ground.
Realizing that Officer Heidelberg had been shot just above his vest, the assisting officer attempted to deliver life-saving care before the wounded officer was rushed to Midland Memorial Hospital.
Officer Heidelberg succumbed to his gunshot wound at approximately 2:20 a.m.
The homeowner, later identified as David Charles Wilson, later admitted that he “fired a handgun in the direction of Officer Heidelberg” from inside the home, his arrest affidavit read, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
According to an internal department email, Wilson said he thought someone was breaking into his home, so he fired towards the illuminated flashlight Officer Heidelberg was holding, KOSA reported.
Wilson has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, and was released from jail on $75,000 bond, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
“We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Officer Heidelberg’s family and the Midland Police Department for the events that lead to his death,” Wilson’s attorney, Brian Carney, told KOSA. “David Wilson believed that his family was experiencing a home invasion and only fired his weapon to protect his family.”
The Texas Rangers are handling the ongoing investigation into Officer Heidelberg’s death.
Midland Police Department (MPD) Deputy Chief Michael Hedrick said that the past 24 hours have been a “nightmare” for his department, KOSA reported.
“Words can’t describe how painful it is to lose a friend, lose a colleague, lose one of your subordinates, one of your employees,”, Chief Hedrick said. “You train with these guys, you eat with these guys, you pray with these guys, you know their families. We’re in mourning.”
“It’s very painful. It shocks it right through the bone through the core of our system,” he added.
Officer Heidelberg was a five-year veteran of the MPD.
“[He] represented the best in all of us,” Midland Police Chief Seth Herman said in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon. “He was courageous, selfless, ethical and professional.”
“Nathan treated others with respect, regardless of their demeanor or actions. He was a tireless public servant who devoted every ounce of energy to this profession, the citizens and his fellow officers,” Chief Herman continued. “We have lost not only a great officer, but a loving brother and the most positive example of what we should all aspire to be. I wish I was more like Nathan."
In a Facebook post, Midland Mayor Jerry Morales asked for flags to be flown at half-staff “in remembrance of Officer Heidelberg and all those fallen in the line of duty.”
“Our Midland families need to stand strong and lift each other up during this time of mourning,” Morales wrote. “Please give your support and thanks to all of our public servants for all they do to protect our great city…this is a tragic loss for our community.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Midland Police Officer Heidelberg, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Nathan Heidelberg, your life mattered.