Officer-involved SWAT scene over; teen suspect in custody

March 21, 2013 12:44:56 PM PDT
Authorities say the 17-year-old suspect accused of shooting two Jacinto City officers was taken into custody following a late-night gunfight with SWAT officers at the scene.

An Eyewitness News photographer at the scene says gunshots rang out shortly before the SWAT scene ended around 12:30am and news of an arrest was announced.

Houston Police Department Spokesman John Cannon confirmed a gunfight erupted after SWAT officers entered a Jacinto City home and found the suspect, 17-year-old Edgar Omar Cuellar, in the bathroom. The teen was injured in the shootout and taken to the Ben Taub with non-life threatening injuries.

According to HPD, once a tank created an opening in the home, a K-9 was sent in but didn't pick up a scent. SWAT officers were then sent in to clear the home, and saw movement in the bathroom.

Officers then deployed pepper spray, which had no effect. As the officers are standing in front of the home, they say the suspect opened fire on them. They then retreated and returned fire.

"Moments later, he fires back at them a second time, and they fire at him a second time. And that's when he is wounded at that point," said Cannon.

This all started when two Jacinto City police officers responded to a suicidal person at the home, located in the 10400 block of North Oswego around 6pm.

Family members told us Cuellar had been acting erratically over the last few days, and police say the teen already knew he was the subject of a deadly conduct investigation before the officers even showed up to the house.

When officers arrived, Cuellar was being restraining by family members.

Cuellar broke free, pulled a gun, and shot a male and female officer. Lt. Dennis Walker, 47, was taken by helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital with a gunshot wound to his chest. Sgt. Jennifer Simpson Castaneda was shot in the arm and taken by ambulance to LBJ Hospital.

The shooting then sparked a multi-agency manhunt that would last hours.

Dozens of patrol cars infiltrated the residential neighborhood and blocked off several intersections. The SWAT team was dispatched to the house to keep an eye out for Cuellar while K-9 officers took their dogs door to door in search for him.

Then as the evening turned into night, there was a plea from one of Cuellar's friends.

"I just want him to come out with his hands up and listen to the cops. I don't want it to be a standoff and him getting killed," Cuellar's friend Nathan Carrera told us.

Caught in the middle of it all were the neighbors. Officers prohibited them from coming and going in the neighborhood, and some families were forced to be separated for hours.

"It's just shocking because it's the first time it's ever happened. It's a nice neighborhood and all of a sudden this happens," neighbor Anthony Gonzales Jr. said.

"It's crazy, it's just crazy," resident Jinny Hagan said.

Both Walker and Castaneda have been with the Jacinto City Police Department for about 10 years. Castaneda's husband is a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, and Walker comes from a longtime law enforcement family. We're told his sons are officers with the DEA and Shreveport Police Department.

At least five law enforcement agencies, including HPD and the Harris County Pct. 2 Office, responded to the scene to help the Jacinto City Police Department.

We're told both officers are expected to survive and could be released from the hospital as early as today.

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