HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Investigators questioned a man Thursday fitting the description of a gunman who authorities say ambushed a Harris County deputy constable from behind following a traffic stop and gravely injured him.
The man showed up at a nearby fire station following the shooting, Houston police spokesman Kese Smith said. No other information was released about him including what he may have told fire personnel when he appeared.
The man has not been arrested or charged, Smith said, adding that authorities were not actively looking for anyone else.
Authorities said Harris County Deputy Constable Alden Clopton was wearing a protective vest when he was shot several times from behind late Wednesday as the assailant stood on the other side of a four-lane road in a neighborhood just northeast of Texas Southern University. The vest likely saved Clopton's life, Constable May Walker said.
"He had sustained six wounds to his abdominal cavity and chest cavity," explained Dr. Joseph Love, with Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute. "The surgery went well, successful. He is now recovering fairly routinely in our shock trauma intensive care unit. "
"He understands us, he can hear us, and he can respond to us non-verbally as far as like a grasp of the hand or nodding of the head," explained Clopton's son, Todre Clopton.
A motive for the shooting is unknown. Asked if authorities believed the shooter was targeting law enforcement, Smith said that Clopton and another deputy constable he was assisting in the traffic stop were in uniform and had marked vehicles.
"I can't see how someone can mistake them for someone other than law enforcement," Smith said.
The suspect fired six shots, four of which hit Clopton, Walker said. Officials had said earlier that Clopton had a bullet lodged near his heart, plus abdominal wounds. The other shots hit the other deputy constable's car and the ground.
"It was virtually an ambush is what it was," Walker said.
Constables in some regions are tasked with serving warrants and providing court security, but in the Houston area they generally provide the same policing coverage as other law agencies.
Clopton is an 11-year veteran of the force who is married and has five children, said Pamela Greenwood, spokeswoman for the Harris County Precinct 7 constable's office. He comes from a law enforcement family, with three brothers who are law officers, and Walker said he's married to a Harris County sheriff's deputy.
According to Smith, the shooting happened after a female reserve deputy constable made the traffic stop and called Clopton to assist. The vehicle that was pulled over had left and Clopton was standing outside the window of the female's officer's vehicle when he was shot.
After Clopton was shot, the female deputy constable got out and shot back, but it was unknown if she hit the fleeing suspect, Smith said. The person who later appeared at the fire station did not have any injuries, Smith said, adding that the shooting was not related to the traffic stop.
Clopton is the second Harris County law officer to be shot from behind in an unprovoked attack in the past year. Texas prosecutors in August charged a 30-year-old man with capital murder in the killing of sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, who was gunned down while filling his patrol car with gas in what officials described as a "senseless and cowardly act."
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick today released the following statement after this shooting and an Austin police officer who was shot this morning:
"Please join Jan and me in praying for the full recovery of these brave men who put on a badge to protect us every day. The targeting of police must end in America."
Wednesday night's shooting is the second time in the last few months that a local law enforcement officer has been ambushed. Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth was shot and killed last year outside a gas station in northwest Harris County.