Mission, TX – Mission Police Department (MPD) Corporal Jose “Speedy” Luiz Espericueta was murdered in the line of duty on Thursday night as he was assisting a fellow officer.
The fatal altercation began at approximately 8:05 p.m., when a female flagged down an MPD officer in the area of Steward Road and Business 83, Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez said during a press conference late Friday morning.
The woman told the officer that her son, 33-year-old Juan Carlos Chapa Jr., had just fired at her vehicle with a handgun, Chief Dominguez explained.
“Within seconds” of being notified about the call by the initial officer, Cpl. Espericueta and other officers arrived in the area to help search for Chapa, the chief said.
The corporal spotted the gunman walking in the 1700-block of East Business Highway 83, and attempted to make contact with him.
“The subject proceeded to run from the officers,” Chief Dominguez told reporters. “As the male subject was running towards the parking lot of Mission Bell Resort, he turned around and began discharging his weapon in the direction of Cpl. Espericueta, striking him.”
The corporal and additional MPD officers at the scene immediately returned fire, and Chapa was “struck multiple times,” the chief said.
Cpl. Espericueta was rushed to McAllen Medical Center in critical condition, and medical personnel tried desperately to save his life for over an hour.
The veteran officer succumbed to his gunshot wounds at 10:05 p.m., Chief Dominguez said.
Meanwhile, Chapa was transported to Rio Grande Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Our department has had several occasions to arrest this individual,” the chief noted, adding that Chapa had a “lengthy criminal record.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal shootout.
“As you can see here today, my colleagues, my friends, are here with me,” Chief Dominguez told reporters, breaking down into tears.
“As the chief of police, I am extremely proud of all of our officers,” he continued. “Our officers, as well as everyone in the line of duty, work in an incredible, difficult environment on an ideal day, and at times, as we see today, this environment can be extremely dangerous.”
He thanked the multitude of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies who have assisted the department in the wake of Cpl. Espericueta’s murder, and said the department has also received an outpouring of support from the community.
Cpl. Espericueta, a 13-year veteran of MPD, served as a traffic collision reconstructionist, patrol officer, commercial vehicle operator, and supervisory corporal during his time with the department.
“We affectionately called him ‘Speedy’ here at our department,” Chief Dominguez said with a brief smile.
“We’re devastated,” the City of Mission tweeted on Thursday night. “He gave his life protecting us. There are no words to explain how heartbroken we are as a community.”
"It is a sad day in Mission,” Mission Mayor Armando O’Cana tweeted. “Tonight, we lost one of our own. Our Mission Police Officer was shot and killed protecting our Community.”
O’Cana said that the city is now focusing on the fallen officer’s family.
“Our hearts are with the officer's family. There are no words,” the mayor wrote. “The City of Mission will be fully standing by with the family during this tragedy.”
Cpl. Espericueta leaves behind his wife and two children, according to Chief Dominguez.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mission Police Department Corporal Jose “Speedy” Luiz Espericueta, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Corporal Jose Espericueta, your life mattered.