Officer Rogelio Santander Murdered, Officer Crystal Almeida Still Fighting
Dallas, TX – Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander, who was shot in the line of duty at a Dallas Home Depot store on Tuesday, 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 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.
Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata said that Officer Almeida was “out of the darkest part,” but that she “still has a long ways to go,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
“[She] is still in serious, serious condition,” Mata explained. “She is fighting. She is doing better than they expected.”
Both officers joined the Dallas Police Department on the same day, approximately three years ago, The Dallas Morning News 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 two counts of aggravated assault on a public servant, and was being held on $1.1 million bond.
His female passenger was also taken into custody, but it was not clear whether or not she was facing any charges, KDFW reported.
Juarez’s father, Ruben Juarez, said he did not believe his son was responsible for the attack, and that he did not believe he even owned a firearm, The Dallas Morning News reported.
"There's no way my son could've done this," he said.
Juarez’s grandmother, Janie Longoria, agreed.
"He's a very sweet, sweet, lovable person," Longoria said. "He doesn't carry a gun. He doesn't have a gun."
Our thoughts and prayers remains with the families of the wounded heroes and the Dallas Police Department.