Off-duty officer killed in shooting at Galleria-area restaurant, suspects still on the run

Brooke Taylor Image
Monday, August 23, 2021
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A group of out-of-towners were trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant near the Galleria on Saturday when two suspects attempted to rob them at gunpoint. One gunman opened fire, killing an off-duty New Orleans police officer and injuring another victim.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston police are looking for two suspects after an off-duty officer from New Orleans was reportedly shot and killed while eating at a restaurant near the Galleria Saturday afternoon.

According HPD Chief Troy Finner, a group of out-of-towners decided to visit the Grotto Ristorante while in Houston.

The group was eating on the patio of the restaurant in the 4700 block of Westheimer Road when two men approached them with guns drawn, police said.

Witnesses said everybody in the group complied with the suspect's demands, but one of the suspects opened fire, hitting the off-duty officer and another victim.

Officers said they received a call about the shooting around 5:17 p.m. The off-duty officer was pronounced dead shortly after they arrived on scene.

The other victim was in critical condition at a hospital.

Chief Finner said the officer leaves behind two kids, and asked for Houstonians to pray for his family and his fellow officers with the New Orleans Police Department.

NOPD Superintendent Sean Ferguson gave the following statement to WGNO regarding the deadly shooting:

"We have been made aware of this incident. We are certain the Houston Police Department will work diligently to find the perpetrators of this terrible crime. We are praying for the family of our fallen officer. We are also praying for the family of the second victim in this incident. I want to thank Houston Police Chief Troy Finner for his strong words of support tonight. I would also ask that you pray for the NOPD family as we begin to understand the enormous loss we have suffered. At this point, we will not be identifying the fallen officer and we ask that you respect the privacy of his family at this terrible time."

Surveillance video from nearby businesses showed the two men who are believed to be the suspects. One was seen wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans. The other was wearing black pants, with a white hoodie.

They left the scene in a gray or silver Nissan Altima that had paper tags.

"Right now, I'm damn mad. It makes no sense," Finner said. "We're gonna stand together as a city. You look at the stats over the last couple of weeks, crime has been going down a little bit, and we want to continue to do that. But right now, I'm not worried about the stats. I'm worried about getting these two individuals because I don't want them to be a reflection of our city."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact HPD Homicide at 713-308-3600 or call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. Officials are offering a reward of $10,000 leading to their arrests.