Houston, TX – A 29-year-old Houston police officer was shot multiple times while trying to end four gunmen’s crime spree late Thursday night.
The suspects also attacked a priest and robbed him and two other citizens at gunpoint in a series of separate attacks, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters during a Friday morning press conference.
One gunman was killed, two others were arrested, and the fourth suspect remains at large.
The five-year veteran-of-the-force went through surgery, and was listed in stable condition in an intensive care unit on Friday morning, National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Vice President Joe Gamaldi tweeted.
The incident began at 9:56 p.m. at the Valero gas station on Griggs Road, when four men stole a 2003 Chevy Tahoe at gunpoint, according to KTRK.
The vehicle was low on fuel, and sputtered to a stop on Tierwester minutes later, at which point the suspects took off on foot, Chief Acevedo said.
They encountered their next victim – a priest – on Meriburr Lane at approximately 10:10 p.m.
“A priest. You heard that right,” the chief told reporters, according to KTRK.
The priest said he was on his knees, praying for his life, when one of the suspects pulled the trigger twice.
“For whatever miraculous reason, the gun didn’t fire,” Chief Acevedo said.
The suspects beat him and stole his two cell phones, then took off on foot again.
They soon encountered a woman sitting in a Ford F150 pickup in her driveway, and banged on her widow with a gun, the chief said.
The suspects ordered her out of the vehicle, then robbed her of her purse and cell phone.
They also demanded the pin number to her debit card, according to Chief Acevedo.
Officers in an unmarked patrol vehicle spotted the armed suspects near a Chase Bank on Tierwester at 10:21 p.m., and at least one of them began chasing the gunmen on foot, KTRK reported.
One of the suspects opened fire on the officer in the back yard of a home in the area of Scott Street and Tristan Street approximately five minutes later, Chief Acevedo said.
The wounded officer fell to the ground as a second officer arrived at the scene.
The second officer fired a single round, killing the suspect.
The wounded officer was struck three times.
He was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
Police said he was struck once in the groin area and twice in the upper body, according to KPRC.
At least one of the bullets hit near a major artery.
Doctors successfully stopped the bleeding and repaired the multiple internal injuries caused by the bullets.
Police have a 17-year-old male and a 39-year-old male in custody, Chief Acevedo said.
They both have criminal histories, but the chief declined to provide any other information about them.
The medical examiner is working to identify the deceased gunman.
At least one of the four suspects has gang affiliations, Chief Acevedo added.
The at-large suspect was described as an adult black male.
“We’re going to get you. We’re going to find you,” Chief Acevedo told him during the press conference. “So, you might as well come out now, turn yourself in, because it will be much better for everyone and much safer.”
The department’s Special Investigations Unit is handling the ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting, and a parallel internal investigation is also underway.
Chief Acevedo said it is unclear whether the officer was shot with his own duty weapon or with the suspect’s firearm.
“There’s a potential he was shot with his own firearm,” he noted. “We don’t know yet.”
Investigators are also reviewing bodycam footage of the encounter.
The wounded officer is the son of a 42-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, according to Chief Acevedo.