Suspects charged in HPD officer's death

June 25, 2009 12:20:49 PM PDT
The Houston Police Department is mourning the loss of a veteran officer killed in the line of duty. Officer Henry Canales was gunned down during a shootout with a group of suspected robbers Tuesday night in southwest Houston. And now, two people are facing capital murder charges.[PHOTOS: Images from this story]

Flags are now flying at half staff at the Houston Police Officer's Union headquarters to honor Canales. And while fellow officers mourn the death of the fallen officer, the Harris County DA's Office has filed capital murder charges against two of the suspects: Andres Nava Maldonado, 41, of Mexico and Xiomara Mendez Rosales, 36, of Honduras. A juvenile female was also arrested.

There is evidence that the two adult suspects are in the US illegally. All three were questioned at length by Houston police homicide investigators and are being held at the Harris County Jail.

The shooter, Roberto Pedroza Carrillo, 37, fired ten rounds at officers and was shot and killed at the scene.

Meanwhile, a source tells Eyewitness News that homicide investigators have in their possession a critical piece of evidence -- recorded audio from the wiretap worn by Officer Canales during Tuesday night's undercover sting.

The tragic shooting occurred at around 9pm Tuesday near the Walgreens off Hillcroft near Bellaire. Investigators say it all started when the four suspects called undercover officers saying they had stolen televisions.

Officer Canales, 42, along with other undercover officers from the auto theft and burglary theft divisions, came to the location to meet with those suspects, who were apparently in the business of buying and selling stolen TVs.

Once the undercover officers met with them and exchanged money, Canales walked to the front of a Budget rental van and Carrillo allegedly followed him. Canales drew his weapon as Carrillo drew and fired his, striking Officer Canales.

When the other undercover officers heard those shots, a second officer, R. Lopez, tried to apprehend the suspect and even handcuffed him, but Carrillo managed to wiggle his way back to his own gun.

"He was in the process of being taken into custody when he reached back and shot several times," said HPD Spokesperson Victor Senties.

Officer Lopez was not hit, but did shoot and kill Carrillo while he was handcuffed. At the time the initial gunfire broke out, the three other suspects got into a van and fled the scene. Police caught up to them at Highway 59 and Bellaire and Rosales, Maldonado and the juvenile were arrested.

Officers at the substation where Officer Canales was most recently working wore black stripes over their badges to honor their fellow comrade.

"There is a lot of danger both for your personal, for your family. You know, you really have to be cognizant about everything around you all of the time," said Gary Blankinship with the Houston Police Officer's Union. "When you are working in an undercover capacity, you always have the danger of people of not knowing you are a police officer out there when things start going bad."

Officer Canales has been with the Houston Police Department since 1993. He leaves behind a wife, as well as a teenage son and daughter.

We'll continue to follow this story and bring you the latest updates as we get them.

Recent HPD officer shootings

The last time a Houston police officer was shot was March 5. Rick Salter was shot in the face during a drug raid in east Houston. He was hospitalized following the shooting. The man suspected of shooting him, Wifido Joel Alfaro, was shot and killed by other officers who were involved in the raid.

And back in December, 11-year HPD veteran Tim Abernethy was killed. He was murdered during a foot chase in northwest Houston. The 43-year-old left behind a wife and two children.

Helping out

"The 100 Club of Houston" will help Officer Canales's family cover his funeral expenses. If you'd like to make a donation, visit the 100 Club of Houston website to help the families of Houston Police Officers killed in the line of duty.

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