A 51-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting a Houston police officer and wounding another is a migrant from El Salvador who is in the United States illegally, according to federal authorities.
Authorities said Elmer Manzano, 51, shot Sgt Harold Preston and Officer Courtney Waller at the Richmond Manor apartments in the 2600 block of Holly Hall while they were responding to a domestic violence incident at the complex.
Preston, who was a 41-year veteran of the department, succumbed to his injuries at Memorial Hermann Hospital after he was shot in the head twice and once in the shoulder.
Police also said Preston, who was preparing to retire this year, had a bullet lodged in his spine. He had been engaged to be married.
Waller, who has been at the department for three years, was shot in the arm and is expected to survive.
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Authorities said Elmer Manzano (pictured), an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was responsible for the killing of one officer and the wounding of another
Sgt Harold Preston (left) was killed, and Officer Courtney Waller (right) was wounded after being shot while they were responding to a domestic violence incident at the complex
The shootings occurred at the Richmond Manor apartments (pictured) in the 2600 block of Holly Hall
Both officers were rushed to the hospital where Preston was pronounced dead.
After Manzano’s arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
ICE officials told Fox News that Manzano is a ‘convicted criminal alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.’
An immigration detainer is placed by ICE whenever an undocumented person who is eligible for deportation has been arrested on criminal charges.
‘We’ve lost just a wonderful human being,’ Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said during the press conference before introducing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Turner encouraged the public to celebrate Preston’s life and service to the city of Houston.
‘I want us to lift up his family, specifically I want us to lift up his young daughter. I want us to lift up his mom and his dad, other relatives, friends and loved ones,’ Turner said.
Turner also said he wanted to lift up Waller and for him to have a ‘total and complete recovery’.
‘Pray for our city,’ Turner said. ‘2020 is a tough, tough year.
Chief Acevedo then took the podium to speak about the shootings.
Acevedo said the incident unfolded around 7.55am local time when the department received a call about a domestic disturbance at the Richmond Manor apartments.
Houston Police chief Art Acevedo walks on the scene of the officer-involved shooting at an apartment complex on Tuesday
The officers were shot before a SWAT team was dispatched to the scene
Law enforcement officials work on the scene of the shooting at an apartment complex Tuesday
When responding officers arrived to the scene, they were met by Manzano’s estranged wife.
She told authorities that she was moving out and wanted to get some items from the apartment.
Acevedo said the officers spent nearly an hour in the parking lot speaking with the woman about the situation.
At about 9.25am, the suspect’s 14-year-old son who was with the mom unlocked the door and opened it.
‘When he opens the door the son sees that his dad has armed himself with a firearm and tells the officers he has a gun,’ Acevedo.
Acevedo said the suspect immediately started shooting, striking Waller in the arm and Preston multiple times.
The son was also shot in the arm and taken to Texas Children’s Hospital. The teen is expected to survive.
Chief Art Acevedo (pictured) said Preston was ‘as good as he was as a cop, he was a better human being’
After the press conference, Houston officers escorted Preston’s body to the medical examiner’s office where they saluted the fallen officer
More responding officers arrived to the scene and were able to remove Preston away from the front door area of the apartment while the suspect remained armed inside.
A short time later the suspect surrendered. Acevedo said he had been shot in the abdominal area during an exchange of gunfire.
During the press conference, Acevedo said Preston was ‘as good as he was as a cop, he was a better human being’.
‘We’re going to miss him. People drop the word hero all the time. And I’m not calling him a hero because of the way he died today but he is a hero,’ Acevedo said.
Acevedo said that Preston was able to see his mother before he died.
After the press conference, Houston officials escorted Preston’s body to the medical examiner’s office where they saluted the fallen officer.
Acevedo said he expects Manzano will be charged with murder, adding that police have repeatedly responded to domestic calls at the home.
The chief said Manzano has an extensive criminal history, but declined to provide details.