MCALLEN, Texas – Two police officers were shot dead on Saturday by a suspect who later killed himself in a border town in south Texas after responding to a call for domestic unrest, authorities said.
McAllen police chief Victor Rodriguez identified the officers killed as Edelmiro Garza, 45, and Ismael Chavez, 39. Garza was a police officer for over eight years while Chavez had more than two years of experience.
“We have lost two brave officials who were just trying to keep the peace in our city,” Rodriguez, visibly distraught, told The (McAllen) Monitor.
Police met for the first time two people who reported assaults that had taken place inside a nearby house on the south side of McAllen at around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Rodriguez said. But the alleged shooter, who police identified as 23-year-old Audon Ignacio Camarillo, opened fire when police tried to enter the house.
“They were doing their job. This is what they were supposed to do. The person was a suspect in the incident, met our police at the door and shot the two police, “said Rodriguez. The two police officers were fatally injured and both died as a result. The police never had the chance to suspect a fatal attack on them, let alone death. ”
Camarillo fell and killed himself shortly after opening fire on the police, said Rodriguez, adding that the suspect was hiding behind a vehicle after other police intervened at the scene. Camarillo has had some skirmishes with police since 2016 for his last arrest last month last month, according to public information.
More details about the internal unrest to which Garza and Chavez responded were not immediately known. Rodriguez said the attack occurred suddenly and his police colleagues only learned of the police’s death after arriving in the area moments later.
Rodriguez said he does not expect his department to recover from the deaths of their fellow officers anytime soon.
“The next few days for us, moving forward as well, will be very, very difficult for us in the department and in the city of McAllen, but our strength will allow us to get through,” said the chief. “We are joining forces with our police, and we are joining forces with colleagues, as you can see here.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who spoke with Rodriguez, offered the state’s full support and expressed his support via social media.
“Two of our best people were killed while on the job while working to protect the residents of their community,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “We join forces with #BackTheBlue. ”
Lt. Christopher Olivarez, spokesman for the Texas Public Safety Department, said the DPS was among the agencies assisting the McAllen police on Saturday.
Olivarez noted that the DPS had sent soldiers to secure the scene after the McAllen Police Department asked for their help. He said his agency received a call about the incident around 4:30 p.m.
McAllen is located at the southern tip of Texas, about 70 miles (113 km) west of the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted that his office would provide the McAllen police with all the help they need.
“Our prayers and unreserved support accompany the valiant men and women of the #CityofMcAllen PD this evening,” said the tweet. “We are grateful to the police in McAllen and this great state.”
US representative Vicente Gonzalez de McAllen said in a statement that hearing about the deaths of the two officers was “devastating.”
“This is devastating news for our community. My heart breaks for these deceased officers and their families, ”said Gonzalez. “They served McAllen with courage and honor and I will keep them in my prayers.”
Rodriguez said that although the police are “weakened at the moment”, he expects a resilient community of law enforcement to stand up and persevere.
“The strength and determination we have to serve our communities, all of us here, will allow us to do what we do every day,” said Rodriguez.
Law enforcement officials from several towns in Hidalgo County met Saturday evening at McAllen Medical to honor Garza and Chavez. More than 50 police cars were part of a procession that accompanied the bodies of the officers, who were taken to Hidalgo County Pathology for an autopsy.
The Associated Press
Video: Man injured after daylight shootout outside eastern Toronto mall (Global News)