“The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of our own tonight, SWAT Commander Sgt. Josh Bartlett,”
July 16 (UPI) — A west Texas county sheriff’s sergeant was fatally shot and four other law enforcement agents were wounded in a shootout that erupted when confronting a suspect who had barricaded himself in a residence, authorities said.
“The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of our own tonight, SWAT Commander Sgt. Josh Bartlett,” the office said in a statement.
Police chief Albert Garcia of Levelland, west of Lubbock, told reporters during a press briefing that a second officer, Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson, was in stable but critical condition after undergoing surgery.
The other injured officers, he said, were treated and released.
The Levelland Police Department said earlier that four law enforcement officers had been wounded, including two critically.
“In my career, it’s almost been 30 yeas in my career, and I have been through some pretty treacherous types of situations before in the past, but never have I lost anybody or never have I been a chief of police where I’ve had a member of my team be injured as severely as they have been today,” he said.
Garcia said the suspect, 22-year-old Omar Soto-Chavira, was taken into custody at around 11:30 p.m. and was transported to a local hospital to treat his undisclosed injuries.
The more than 10-hour standoff began after 1 p.m. Thursday when police were called to a residence in Levelland about a person “acting strange and walking around with what appeared to be a large gun,” a Garcia said in an earlier press briefing.
Not long after police arrived and contacted the suspect, he re-entered the residence and opened fire, Garcia said.
Bartlett was shot shortly after arriving on the scene to assist local police at 2:15 p.m. and was transported to Covenant Medical Center in Levelland where he was later pronounced dead, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office said.
Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe described the residence to reporters as a mobile home and said they were able to take the suspect into custody with the use of a robot and gas that flushed him from the bathroom into an open area where he surrendered to police.
Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish has ordered for flags on all county buildings to be lowered to half-staff in Bartlett’s honor.
“This terrible loss is a solemn reminder of the risks our brave law enforcement officers face while protecting our communities,” he said in a statement. “I ask all Lubbock County citizens to join us in praying for his family, for healing for the other officers who were injured in the standoff and for the entire Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department.”
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