Suspect in Texas police shooting 'presumed dead'

July 23, 2014 - 1:04 AM
Officers Shot-Standoff-Texas

A Hidalgo County Sheriff points a rifle from the top of an armored vehicle Tuesday during a standoff with a capitol murder suspect in La Joya, Texas on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Officials said the suspect was later presumed dead after a final assault on the house. (AP Photo/The Monitor, Nathan Lambrecht) MAGS OUT; TV OUT

LA JOYA, Texas (AP) — A man suspected of shooting two South Texas police officers during an hours-long standoff Tuesday night is "presumed dead" after officers raided the house he had barricaded inside and exchanged gunfire with him, authorities said.

The 29-year-old capital murder suspect had been spraying bullets toward officers who were outside the house in the Rio Grande Valley town of La Joya. The man was silenced Tuesday evening after officers rammed the front door, inserted tear gas and exchanged fire, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said.

The man is "presumed dead," but that won't be confirmed until a bomb squad establishes that the house is not booby-trapped with explosives, as the man had suggested, Guerra said.

The ordeal began about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday when La Joya police advised police in nearby Edinburg of the sighting of a vehicle matching the description of one related to the killing of 19-year-old Mexican national, Edinburg Police Chief Rolando Castaneda said. The 19-year-old was found shot in the back of the head behind a vacant home in Edinburg last weekend.

Edinburg police responded, along with other agencies that were tracking the vehicle to a La Joya home.

"As our officers were getting out of the car, the suspect ... opened up on our officers," Castaneda said. "One of my officers was shot in the arm. The other officer was shot in both legs and possibly a third time. He's in surgery right now. They're all doing fine.

"Arriving officers were able to rescue the two officers, throw them in their patrol car while under gunfire the whole time," Castaneda said. "Those officers were heroes."

Armored vehicles were brought in to extract responding officers who were pinned behind their cars by gunfire, said Guerra.

Negotiators were immediately called in and made contact with the suspect, whom Guerra identified only as the capital murder suspect. The man told the negotiators he was ready to surrender.

"However, as he opened the door, he immediately engaged our personnel that were waiting for him to make the arrest," Guerra said.

"He was contacted again, and he made arrangements to surrender again," Guerra said. "At that point, again, he engaged our officers with multiple shots. ... We decided that he was not going to give up, so we deployed an armored vehicle and rammed the front door and injected tear gas. At that point he came out firing."

Officers returned fire, and the suspect was presumed dead, Guerra said. The bomb squad was checking the scene late Tuesday.