Shots were fired at an apartment complex in Houston early Tuesday as police officers responded to what the Washington Examiner called a “domestic abuse situation.” The shooting left one officer dead and another injured.
The officer who lost his life after Tuesday’s shooting was Sgt. Harold Preston, who had served with the Houston Police Department for 41 years, according to the Examiner.
The suspect in the shooting has since been identified as 51-year-old Elmer Manzano. Manzano was taken into custody after a SWAT team surrounded the apartment in the aftermath of the deadly attack, the Examiner reported.
An ambush in Houston
It all started just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, when Preston and fellow officer Courtney Waller responded to a call about a domestic dispute.
According to local ABC affiliate KTRK, the officers found the suspect’s estranged wife, as well as his 14-year-old son, outside the apartment complex in a parking lot. Manzano’s wife reportedly informed the officers that she was moving out and trying to retrieve items from inside the locked apartment.
Nearly an hour and a half later, Manzano’s son managed to unlock the door, only to find his father waiting with a gun, which he promptly used to open fire, according to reports. Both the two officers, as well as Manzano’s son, were shot in the ambush.
Sgt. Preston, for his part, was hit multiple times in the head, as well as in his shoulder and spine, according to the Washington Examiner. Waller, meanwhile, was hit in the arm and is expected to survive, as is Manzano’s teenage son, who was also shot in the arm.
“Weeks from retirement”
In a statement following the news of Preston’s death, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo called the longtime officer, who was set to retire this year, a “hero” — one who led his men from the front instead of from behind a desk, as KTRK reported. It was a sentiment echoed by Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union.
“HPD Sgt Harold Preston was murdered in cold blood today,” Gamaldi wrote in a tweet Tuesday, according to the Washington Examiner. “He served Houston honorably for 41 years, was weeks from retirement, he did not deserve this. Please keep his family and all of our officers in your thoughts/prayers as we attempt to make sense of any of this. RIP Brother[.]”
Statements of condolence and calls for justice were also issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), the Harris County constable for Preston’s precinct, as well as the Harris County district attorney, among others, according to KTRK.
A felony record
As for the suspect, KPRC 2 in Houston reports that Manzano has at least one prior felony conviction on his record and was likely illegally in possession of the firearm used in the attack. According to KPRC 2, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “said Manzano is an El Salvador national who was illegally in the U.S.”
Houston police said officers had responded to multiple calls at the apartment complex over the weekend ahead of Tuesday’s fatal shooting.