At least two Houston police officers were left fighting for their lives Monday evening after suspects about to be issued a search warrant opened fire, spraying four officers with bullets.
At a press conference outside the hospital treating the wounded officers, Police Chief Art Acevedo said two of the officers, ages 50 and 54, were in “critical but stable condition” after suffering gunshot wounds and are currently in surgery. Both were “struck in the neck area,” he said, and the 54-year-old was a “senior officer.” Two others who were shot are currently under observation and are expected to make a full recovery. A fifth officer was discharged from the hospital after sustaining a minor injury.
Acevedo told reporters 12 narcotics officers and six patrol officers had arrived to a house in the 7800 block of Harding Street at around 5:00 p.m. after an investigation found that sales of “black tar heroin” were happening out of the residence. Once officers breached the house, two suspects allegedly sprayed the officers with “semi-automatic” weapons.
“We think they’re dealing dope out of this house, we don’t ignore that,” Acevedo said. “The poison is killing so many kids… That’s why they were there tonight.”
According to Acevedo, SWAT and “other allied agencies” responded to the scene and probed the house with two robots. Officials then confirmed that two suspects in the house were hit by police gun fire and pronounced dead.
“I want to encourage all Houstonians to pray for our officers,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters. “Our job is to keep people safe in our city… We do not tolerate any sort of activity, whether it is drugs or drug trafficking. We don’t tolerate it.”
Houston Police Officer Union President Joe Gamaldi also got emotional at the press conference, telling reporters that violence against officers must stop.
“We are sick and tired of having targets on our back… Enough is enough,” he said. “People who say police officers are the enemy… we’re gonna hold you accountable.”
The incident also reportedly rocked the neighborhood where it occurred, with many residents blocked from getting to their homes and left panicked as police searched for suspects and cordoned off the area.
A witness interviewed by local news outlet KHOU 11 said she’d watched as all hell broke loose during the gunfire. After hearing about 15 shots, she said she saw several wounded police officers frantically trying to take cover.
KPRC 2 reported that police had advised those in a part of Gloverdale neighborhood to evacuate, but have since allowed residents back into the neighborhood. Deputies from Houston, Harris County, and SWAT forces were reportedly in the area just a few blocks from Milby High School, according to KHOU.
In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the incident a “horrific attack” and said the Houston Police Department will have whatever state resources are needed to “bring swift justice to those involved.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote on Twitter that he and his wife were “praying for the five Houston police officers who were shot today, as well as their families.”
Police departments from Boston, Orlando, and New York have extended their best wished towards the injured officers on social media. “We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the officers, their families and the entire Houston Police Department,” Boston PD wrote.