Gunman captured in standoff that killed one
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LEVELLAND, Texas (AP) — Authorities captured the suspect late Thursday following an hourslong police standoff where one officer was killed and four others were wounded in a small West Texas city.
Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, was injured when he was taken into custody around 11:30 p.m. at a home in Levelland, police Chief Albert Garcia told reporters. The suspect was being transported to a hospital in Lubbock for treatment, Garcia said. The extent of the suspect’s injuries was not disclosed.
Authorities used robots to enter the home, then deployed gas which drew Soto-Chivara out of the resi- dence, Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said at the briefing.
The standoff between the suspect and law enforcement had begun at the home around 1 p.m. after someone reported a man as possibly armed along the residential street in Levelland, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Lubbock. The confrontation escalated quickly, gunfire erupted as the suspect barricaded himself inside a house, and a standoff ensued.
Three of the wounded offi- cers were taken to a Lubbock hospital. Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was taken to Covenant Health Levelland hospital and died of his wounds, according to a sheriff’s office statement. Bartlett was the commander of the sheriff’s tactical unit.
Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson was in critical but stable condition in University Medical Center in Lubbock after surgery, said Garcia. The other three officers were treated for minor injuries and had been discharged from the hospital, he said
Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres had said the suspect had a history of contact with police. He also said Bartlett, leader of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT command, was a nine-year veteran of the department who had served overseas in the U.S. Army.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the man to open fire or to barricade himself in the house. However, the standoff capped a string of events that began at 11:17 a.m. Thursday as a state trooper was conducting a traffic stop, Garcia said.
At 1:12 p.m. Thursday, Levelland police received a report that the complainant’s neighbor “was acting strange and was walking around with what appeared to be a large gun,” Garcia said. Arriving officers determined the neighbor’s pickup truck matched the description that the trooper provided of the vehicle with the apparently provocative driver at the wheel.
Garcia said investigators believed the man was alone in the house. Concerned about the report that the man was armed, a police negotiator tried to open talks with the suspect, who was hostile and did not want a discussion, Garcia said. Moments later, the suspect opened the front door to the house and opened fire on the Levelland officers. “We did return fire, but it did not appear that we struck the suspect at that time,” the chief said.