A Texas sheriff’s sergeant was killed and four other officers were injured when a barricaded man in a house shot them in a standoff Thursday, police said.
The suspect was taken into custody around 11:30 p.m., more than 10 hours after the start of the standoff. A robot and gas were used and the 22-year-old eventually surrendered, the Lubbock County Sheriff told reporters at the scene.
The violence began after police in Levelland, west of Lubbock, were called to the house shortly after 1 p.m. after someone reported that a neighbor was acting strangely and walking around with a big gun, said Police chief Albert Garcia said earlier.
The officers restrained themselves and a police negotiator was called. Police made contact, but the man inside “was very unfriendly” and said he did not want to speak to officers, Garcia said.
“It was only a matter of minutes after this contact that the suspect opened the front door of the residence and started shooting,” Garcia said.
Lubbock County Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Bartlett, commander of the SWAT team, was gunned down shortly after 2 p.m., the sheriff’s office said.
Four other law enforcement officers were injured, authorities said. The most seriously injured is a policeman from Levelland who was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery, Garcia said. This officer was released from surgery and was in critical condition but was stable, he said.
The arrested person was the only one inside the house and no one else was involved, Garcia said after his arrest.
The investigation is still in its early stages, police said, and no motives have been disclosed. The Texas Rangers will resume the investigation, Garcia said.
Police from other agencies, as well as the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, have helped, he said.
Authorities said the man inside the house was known to police.
“Have we ever had contact with this person? Yeah, we’ve had it, ”Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres said Thursday, but declined to give details at the time as the situation unfolded.
The arrested man may have encountered a Texas Highway Patrol soldier earlier today, Garcia said.
The soldier reported that around 11 a.m. he was at a traffic stop when a person driving recklessly in a white Chevy truck “appeared to be trying to drag him into some kind of confrontation,” Garcia said.
This driver appeared to be heading towards Levelland and the police searched for the truck but could not find it. When officers arrived at the house, they saw the pickup that had been reported in the driveway, Garcia said.
Bartlett, who had worked in the Sheriff’s Department for nine years, had a wife and children, and was an Army veteran who had toured several overseas, Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.
“Our hearts, my heart and I know the whole country is with his wife and children tonight,” Rowe said.