A Killeen police officer was shot and killed early Sunday after a shootout with a man armed with an assault rifle. It was the first time a Killeen officer was shot in 95 years.
“Early this morning, this community experienced the loss of one of Killeen’s finest. The days ahead will be challenging, but for now, we are mourning the loss of a great officer,” Chief Dennis Baldwin said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the officer’s family during this difficult time.”
The officer’s name is being withheld to allow his family privacy, Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Carroll Smith said.
KPD officers responded to a disturbance call at 11:40 p.m. Saturday in the pool area at Grandon Manor Apartments in the 1600 block of Grandon Drive in Killeen.
The person who called police said a white man came out of his apartment carrying a weapon and threatened people in the pool.
Grandon Manor resident Thomas Crain, 20, said he saw the man point a rifle at neighbors, and asked if they were ready to go to heaven. He and another resident called police, who immediately responded.
When officers arrived, they saw the man was carrying a rifle, and the KPD SWAT team was sent to the scene.
Two snipers stood on the roof of a retail building across Grandon Drive, according to Crain and Building 5 resident Joe Saldivar.
The man then went back to his apartment, and was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle when he began “shooting at the officers,” according to a KPD news release.
Two officers were shot. One of them was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m. Sunday; the other is listed in stable condition following surgery at Scott & White Hospital in Temple. The man with the AK-47 was shot and killed by police during a shootout. His identity was withheld by police pending notification of next of kin.
Crain stood between Building 5 and Building 6, where he said he witnessed the suspect shoot through an entire round of ammunition and strike an officer near the collarbone. The officer immediately went down. Another officer was shot in the leg. Paramedics then performed CPR on the officers.
The killed officer has been on the force for 4½ years, Smith said. This is the first time since Dec. 6, 1917, a Killeen police officer was shot or killed in the line of duty.
“He was a wonderful person, a wonderful officer, a wonderful father, son and husband,” Smith said. “He was a very, very good guy, and he will be missed very deeply.”
According to online records, 11 police officers died in Texas, and 120 died across the U.S. in 2012.
An ambulance transported both officers to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in critical condition, the release stated.
One officer was stabilized before he was transferred to Scott & White, where he underwent surgery Sunday. Smith said the hospitalized officer was doing well Sunday afternoon.
The suspect’s next-door neighbor, Tenesha Dixon, 23, and Building 5 resident Joe Saldivar said the suspect was drinking.
Dixon said her husband visited the apartment of the suspect from about 10 to 11 p.m. Saturday, who offered her husband tequila.
Dixon described the man as a friendly soldier who had recently returned from Afghanistan, but “he liked to drink,” she said.
The man’s actions shocked her.
“Our kids would come and play with his puppy,” Dixon said.
Police evacuated Building 6 for about 3½ hours.
On Sunday afternoon, the sidewalk and a doormat lay bloodstained outside the suspect’s apartment.
Multiple bullet holes riddled the adjacent brick retail complex and the apartment unit’s exterior, which bore strewn glass and boarded-up windows.
Crain said he couldn’t sleep after what he saw, and didn’t feel safe in his neighborhood.
Dixon and 29-year apartment resident Mary Curry said violence was rare in the complex.
“This is not a bad neighborhood,” Dixon said. “We renewed our lease twice. My husband’s deploying to Afghanistan, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Grandon Manor managers had no comment.
Police continue to investigate the incident.