Standoff in Texas: SWAT command chief useless, 4 wounded after standoff with gunman

A SWAT commander chief is useless and 4 different officers wounded after an hourslong police standoff with a gunman Thursday in a small West Texas metropolis, officers mentioned. Authorities say the suspect was captured simply earlier than midnight in Levelland, about 30 miles west of Lubbock.

The standoff between the suspect and legislation enforcement had begun on the residence round 1 p.m. after somebody reported a person as presumably armed alongside the residential avenue. The confrontation escalated shortly, gunfire erupted because the suspect barricaded himself inside a home, and a standoff ensued.

Three of the wounded officers had been taken to a Lubbock hospital. Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Workplace was taken to Covenant Well being Levelland hospital and died of his wounds, in line with a sheriff’s workplace assertion. Bartlett was the commander of the sheriff’s tactical unit.

Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson was in vital however secure situation in College Medical Heart in Lubbock after surgical procedure, mentioned Garcia. The opposite three officers had been handled for minor accidents and had been discharged from the hospital, he mentioned.

Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, was injured when he was taken into custody round 11:30 p.m. at a house in Levelland, police Chief Albert Garcia informed reporters. The suspect was being transported to a hospital in Lubbock for therapy, Garcia mentioned. 

Authorities used robots to enter the house, then deployed gasoline which drew Soto-Chivara out of the residence, Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe mentioned on the briefing.

Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres had mentioned the suspect had a historical past of contact with police. He additionally mentioned Bartlett, chief of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Workplace’s SWAT command, was a nine-year veteran of the division who had served abroad within the U.S. Military.

“Josh was a real servant,” Rowe mentioned. “He personified the true skilled in legislation enforcement, particularly right here in Texas legislation enforcement.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, who represents Texas’ nineteenth Congressional District, reacted to Bartlett’s demise on Twitter.

It was not instantly clear what prompted the person to open fireplace or to barricade himself in the home. Nevertheless, the standoff capped a string of occasions that started at 11:17 a.m. Thursday as a state trooper was conducting a site visitors cease, Garcia mentioned.

“Throughout that site visitors contact, he had a separate person that was driving recklessly, and as he reported to us, gave the impression to be attempting to bait him into some kind of confrontation,” Garcia mentioned.

At 1:12 p.m. Thursday, Levelland police obtained a report that the complainant’s neighbor “was performing unusual and was strolling round with what gave the impression to be a big gun,” Garcia mentioned. Arriving officers decided the neighbor’s pickup truck matched the outline that the trooper supplied of the automobile with the apparently provocative driver on the wheel.

Garcia mentioned investigators believed the person was alone in the home. Involved concerning the report that the person was armed, a police negotiator tried to open talks with the suspect, who was hostile and didn’t desire a dialogue, Garcia mentioned. Moments later, the suspect opened the entrance door to the home and opened fireplace on the Levelland officers. “We did return fireplace, however it didn’t seem that we struck the suspect at the moment,” the chief mentioned.

Backup was referred to as from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Workplace tactical squad and the Hockley County Sheriff’s Workplace. “It wasn’t lengthy thereafter that we had extra photographs fired, and we had officers that had been injured,” Garcia mentioned.

The hospital the place the Lubbock County deputy died, Covenant Well being Levelland, is located lower than a mile from the standoff scene and positioned itself on lockdown “to make sure the security of our sufferers, caregivers, and guests” and has deployed extra safety officers to the hospital.

Media retailers on the scene reported gunfire was ongoing all through the standoff, and close by residents had been urged to depart their houses. Some who declined to depart had been suggested to remain on the rear of their homes and keep low, Garcia mentioned.

Police, deputies and different emergency crews from all through the area responded to the incident, together with the Texas Division of Public Security, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and different federal businesses, Garcia mentioned. The Rangers would lead the investigation after the standoff concluded.

Levelland is the Hockley County seat and a neighborhood oil, cotton and cattle heart that’s residence to about 13,500 residents.

Lubbock County Decide Curtis Parrish mentioned that county flags can be flown at half-staff to honor Bartlett, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. 

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