Between three and five Houston police officers serving a warrant in Southeast Houston were shot this afternoon and are being taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital, police have reported. Life Flight was also called to the scene.
According to a tweet from Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, several Houston police officers have been shot. He was proceeding to the scene at 7800 Harding.
Early reports were that three to five officers were shot a little before 5 p.m. and on their way to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Initial reports were that there were one or two suspects involved. There were also reports that one or two suspects were shot as well. Reports said that there was a possible third suspect who had eluded police and that a perimeter had been set up. Reportedly, the police sent in a robot to search the house where the third suspect was believed to be.
Later unconfirmed reports were that two suspects were dead.
Houston police reported that all five officers were on the way to the hospital and asked drivers to avoid the area and yield to emergency vehicles. Reports were that one officer was shot in the leg, one in the arm and one in the face. According to Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, three were said to be in stable condition, two critical.
Harris County sheriff's deputies were assisting at the scene. SWAT teams were stationed in the area and neighborhood residents trying to return home found some streets blocked off while the search continued.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued this statement:
“This evening’s horrific attack on police officers is a solemn reminder of the service and sacrifice our brave men and women in law enforcement make every day to keep us safe. The city of Houston and the Houston Police Department will have whatever state resources they need to bring swift justice to those involved. I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the officers injured, and for the continued safety of all law enforcement officers who protect our communities.”
It followed an earlier statement from Mayor Sylvester Turner who said he'd been informed of the shooting, was waiting for a status report and said: "I am asking for your prayers for them."
Turner followed this with a tweet saying "Suspect in the HPD shooting is down."
Update: 7:20 p.m.
Residents were being allowed to come back into the neighborhood after police said the scene was secured.
Update 7:38 p.m.
At the start of the press conference Mayor Turner said "This has been a tough day for our city." He did have good news in that one of the injured officers was being released.
"I'm very grateful and thankful for everyone who has come together," he said, pointing out the city council members were at the hospital as well. He thanked the Houston Fire Department and Memorial Hermann.
The Police Chief Acevedo took over the mike, saying:
About 4:15 p.m. a team of about a dozen narcotics officers responded to the address as a team of about a dozen narcotics officers and a half a dozen patrol officers, Acevedo said. Uniformed officers were there to provide support, he said. The narcotics officers announced themselves as police officers while breeching the front door, Acevedo said.
"The officers came under fire from one or two suspects inside the house.... five officers were injured, As a result of the exchange of gunfire, four were struck by gunfire." He said two officers were in surgery right then in critical condition. "Their families are here. Some of their families are in transit. One officer sustained an injury during the gun battle."
Two suspects came under return fire from the Houston Police Department and those suspects were pronounced dead at the scene, Acevedo said.
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One was age 50, a sergeant transported by ambulance. Another age 50 was Life Flighted. Another a senior police officer age 54, Acevedo said. "This man is the case agent on this case and he was there on the front lines." The officers in critical condition were shot in their necks, Acevedo said. The one officer who was not shot suffered a knee injury, he said.
Acevedo said the whole operation began when a neighbor told police that he thought there was drug dealing going on in that house. According to Acevedo, it was black tar heroin.
Union chief Gamaldi presented a defiant tone when it was his turn at the mike.
"We are sick and tired of having targets on our back. We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we're trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough. And if you're the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy well just know we've all got your number now. We're going to be keeping track of all of y'all. And we're going to make sure that we hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers. We've had enough folks. We're out there doing our jobs every day."