Wounded HPD officer's condition worsens

March 7, 2009 12:09:36 PM PST
Officials say the injuries suffered by a Houston police officer shot in the face Thursday night are worse than initially thought. [PHOTOS: See images from Thursday night's shooting]

Police say Officer R.L. Salter, a 27-year veteran of the force, was critically injured while trying to search the home of a suspected drug dealer. Officials originally said he was doing well. But Friday morning, doctors said there was more damage than first thought.

As Salter's elderly parents were driven to the hospital Friday afternoon, news of his condition went from bad to worse.

"They found some arterial damage, which, according to the doctors when they briefed the family, was irreparable," said Gary Blankenship with the Houston Police Officers Union.

Police union officials say the family was notified around 2:30am Friday that Salter had suffered arterial damage to his face, restricting blood flow to the brain.

"That's a serious condition," said Blankenship.

It was shortly after 9pm Thursday when a team of undercover officers were serving a search warrant at a home on on Avenue O near Central.

As Salter went through the door, he was shot once in the face. His fellow officer opened fire, killing the suspect.

Police believe the suspect knew the officers were approaching. They say inside, he had a 50-inch TV hooked up to surveillance of the home.

"A lot of these drug dealers have sophisticated equipment," said Blankenship. "They're well-financed. They're well-armed."

Eyewitness News has learned the search warrant was part of a heroin investigation, however the suspect's sister-in-law denies any knowledge of drug activity at the house.

"I don't know nothing about that," said Olidia Aviles. "I mean, I'm the sister. I would know something."

Two children, ages five years old and five months old, were inside the home at the time of the shooting.

The three officers who opened fire have been identified as M.D. Sinegal , C.R. Cantu and B.K. McCord. All are on a maximum of three days administrative leave and must meet with a psychological services counselor before returning to duty. It's standard procedure during any police shooting.

As for the suspect, the medical examiner's office hasn't released his name.

Earlier Friday, Houston Mayor Bill White urged Houston residents to pray for all local law enforcement officers. He says they put work every day into the most dangerous areas of the city.

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