HOUSTON (AP) — Two Houston police officers were shot and taken to hospitals, one of them in critical condition, as they were investigating a home burglary Tuesday, authorities said.
One suspect was killed in a shootout with the officers and one other man was being sought, police said.
“If he’s hiding somewhere, we’re not leaving,” Police Chief Art Acevedo said as hundreds of officers combed the southwest Houston neighborhood. “We ain’t going away.”
Acevdeo lifted a lockdown on the southwest Houston neighborhood of about 1,800 homes, including three schools, more than four hours later and urged residents to notify police of anything suspicious.
“We’d rather you report it and be on the safe side,” he said. “We don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”
The chief said three homes in the neighborhood were burglarized Tuesday and while police didn’t know if all three were connected, the suspect killed in the shootout was involved in at least one of them.
“My primary concern now is for the condition of the two officers,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said outside one of the hospitals where the officers were being treated.
One officer, Jose Munoz, was shot in the foot and his condition was not considered life-threatening. The other officer, Ronny Cortez, had a bullet lodged near his spine, the mayor said.
Cortez is a 24-year veteran of the department and was at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Munoz has been an officer for 10 years and was at Ben Taub Hospital.
Houston Emergency Services Director Dr. David Persse said Cortez’s condition “is improved since he first got here.”
“He is awake and talking and is with his family,” Persse said.
Acevedo said Cortez was “in pain but he’s alert. … Both these officers have hearts of lions.”
Acevedo said the officers were among several called late Tuesday morning to investigate a burglary in the neighborhood. A woman at one of the homes alerted them that a door at a storage shed behind her home was ajar and appeared to be suspicious.
“Two of our officers actually jumped the fence and went into that backyard to clear that storage shed when a male Hispanic suspect opened the door, came out and opened fire on our officers,” he said. “Officers were able to return gunfire.”
One gunman was killed there. He described the second suspect as a Hispanic man dressed in black and with a blue bandanna.
“We will assume the second suspect at large is armed and dangerous,” Acevedo said. He apologized for the inconvenience to the neighborhood, “but someone that’s willing to shoot and try to kill two fully uniformed officers in broad daylight after committing a burglary, which is a property crime, is someone that will not hesitate to kill a member of that community.”
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)