A Houston police officer was wounded and a suspect fatally shot during an exchange of gunfire following two carjackings and the robbery of a priest Thursday night, authorities said.
The 29-year-old officer was out of surgery and in stable condition, Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters Friday.
“We’re very hopeful for a full recovery,” he said.
The shooting happened about 10:30 p.m. in southeast Houston, leaving the five-year police veteran shot – possibly three times – and one suspect dead, Acevedo said.
Two suspects – one 17, the other 39 – were arrested, he said. A fourth remained on the loose.
The violence unfolded about three miles from the scene of the third debate of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary at Texas Southern University.
’I was praying,’ priest says
Acevedo said the crime spree appeared to start with a carjacking. The four suspects took a 2003 Chevy Tahoe at gunpoint at a gas station, but the vehicle ran out of gas and they abandoned it.
The suspects then held up a priest at gunpoint at a church parking lot. The priest was on his knees, praying for his life, as one suspect pulled the trigger twice but the gun jammed, according to Acevedo.
The priest was beaten and his cellphone stolen by the suspects, the police chief said.
“There was nothing I had except for my rosary,” Father Desmond Ohankwere told CNN affiliate KTRK. “I was praying.”
“When I saw the gun, I said, Oh my God, this is something real,” he added. “I was conscious that anything could happen. These guys could kill me. … They were desperate.”
The suspects took his eyeglasses and two cellphones, the priest told the station.
“I was looking at them and asking, ‘Why are you doing this? What have I done to you?’” Ohankwere said. “They said nothing. They kept beating me and looking for money. I was on the ground.”
Wounded officer son of a police veteran
Their spree continued with another carjacking, this time a pickup truck driven by a woman whose purse and cellphone were also stolen, Acevedo said.
Officers later confronted the suspects after they abandoned the truck. One officer chased a suspect into the backyard of a house and ordered the man to get on the ground.
“We have body worn camera footage of all this,” Acevedo said. “At some point a struggle ensued (and) the suspect actually shot our officer and several shots were discharged.”
The police chief said the exact sequence of events is under investigation.
“The suspect shot the officer, he went down when a secondary officer was coming from the opposite direction (and) discharged what appears to be one round striking the suspect,” who died at the scene, Acevedo said.
The shooting is being investigated by the department and the district attorney’s office, Acevedo said.
The wounded officer is the son of a 42-year police veteran, the chief said.
The suspects in custody face felony charges but Acevedo did not specify the counts.
Acevedo urged the suspect who remains on the run to turn himself in.
“We’re going to get you,” he said. “We’re going to find you.”
CNN’s Joe Sutton and Melissa Alonso contribited to this report.