HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One of two Houston police officers has died after they were shot at an apartment complex Tuesday morning in southwest Houston, HPD Chief Art Acevedo said.
The officer killed has been identified as Sgt. Harold Preston, a 41-year veteran of the department. He was preparing to retire this year.
Acevedo said Preston was shot more than once in the head. He was also shot in the shoulder area and a bullet was embedded in his spine.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has asked that the city of Houston lift up his family in prayer, including his 23-year-old daughter.
Turner identified the second officer shot as Courtney Waller. He was shot in the arm and is expected to survive. Waller has been with the force for three years.
The shooting unfolded around 7:55 a.m. at the Richmond Manor apartments in the 2600 block of Holly Hall and El Mundo, near Highway 288.
Acevedo said officers were responding to a domestic violence situation. When Preston, Waller and another officer arrived to the scene, the estranged wife of the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Elmer Manzano, told them she was moving out and wanted to retrieve items from the apartment.
Acevedo said HPD had two previous service calls at this same address over the weekend.
On Tuesday, the woman said the door was locked and Manzano wouldn't let her in. Officers spoke with her for an hour.
Around 9:25 a.m., Manzano's 14-year-old son, who was with the woman in the parking lot, managed to unlock the door and open it.
The son saw that Manzano had a gun and told officers. That's when Manzano fired multiple rounds, hitting Waller and Preston, Acevedo said.
By 9:31 a.m., officers were able to safely move Preston away from the apartment, while Manzano remained inside.
A minute later, HFD ambulances arrived, transporting Preston and Waller to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where there has been a massive police presence ever since.
HFD also transported the teen son, who was shot in the arm, to Texas Children's Hospital.
Around 10:26 a.m., Manzano looked out the window, saw that SWAT had surrounded the apartment, and surrendered.
Acevedo said an elderly woman also walked out of the apartment at the time.
Acevedo shared that Preston, who was in his 60s, was able to see his mother before he died.
"I'm not calling him a hero because of the way he died today, but he is a hero," Acevedo said. "Because as good as he was as a cop, he was a better human being."
Watch: City leaders get emotional over HPD sergeant's death
"He's leading from where we want our sergeants to lead from: the front. He's leading with his men and women on the streets instead of choosing to sit at a desk drinking coffee, reading the paper, that's the kind of man he was," Acevedo continued.
Acevedo said that Preston lived with his elderly parents and took care of them.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement after the shooting.
"Our hearts are with the family of Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston who was shot and killed in the line of duty this morning. This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the dangers our brave law enforcement officers face while keeping our communities safe. Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in lifting up Sgt. Preston's family in prayer in their time of need. We also ask all Texans to pray for the speedy recovery of Houston Police Officer Courtney Waller who was shot while responding to the same incident and is recovering in the hospital. The state stands ready to assist the Houston Police Department in bringing to justice the perpetrators of this horrific tragedy."
Condolences also poured in from fellow agencies, including Harris County Constable Precinct 4.
"The men and women of Constable Mark Herman's Office extend their condolences to the Houston PD as they mourn the loss of Sergeant Harold Preston who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call this morning," Constable Mark Herman wrote. "Rest easy brother, we have the watch!"
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg also issued a statement regarding the deadly shooting.
SkyEye video from scene where HPD sergeant and officer were shot
This shooting comes just days after Houston Fire Department Arson Investigator Lemuel "DJ" Bruce was shot and killed in the Heights area.
At the time, Acevedo shared his support.
"Our hearts are broken for our friends. We will be with the Bruce Family and HFD every step of his journey to Eternal Rest," Acevedo wrote.
According to officials, violent crime is up 11% in the city of Houston.
Six hot spots throughout the city are seeing the most violent crime numbers.
- West side
- South Gessner
- North Belt
- Southeast Houston
- South Central
As a result, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a new initiative designed to help battle crime and decrease numbers, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Turner says the city will put $4.1 million of CARES Act funding into the initiative, which will deploy an additional 110 officers each day to the aforementioned areas to help reduce crime. The officers will stay in those areas for the remainder of the year.
There is also a grave concern about the rise in domestic violence cases since the pandemic started.
In June, 13 Investigates reported there was a spike in victims in need of protection as quarantine restrictions at the time were lifted.
Anyone who needs help getting out of a domestic violence situation can call the Houston Area Women's Center 24/7 hotline at 713-528-2121 or call AVDA at 713-224-9911. You can also chat with an advocate online. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and need help, call 713-528-3625.
Still, this latest shooting adds to what has already been difficult for HPD since last year.
In Dec. 2019, HPD Sgt. Christopher Brewster was shot to death while responding to a domestic disturbance call in Houston's East End.
In that case, the suspected shooter, 25-year-old Arturo Solis, was charged with capital murder of a police officer. Court documents state Solis confessed that he was aware Brewster was a police officer and shot him in order to avoid arrest.