Texas sheriff’s sergeant killed, four officers injured during hours-long standoff

Law enforcement vehicles after standoff in Levelland, Texas. (KCBD/TNS)

A Texas sheriff’s sergeant was killed and another four officers were wounded during a violent standoff, which involved a suspect barricading himself inside a home and then open firing on law enforcement.

“The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of our own, tonight, SWAT Commander Sergeant Josh Bartlett,” it said in a statement.

The violence unfolded shortly after authorities arrived at a residence in Levelland, west of Lubbock, around 2 p.m. on Thursday, according to Levelland Chief of Police Albert Garcia. They were responding at the time to a call about a man acting strangely and walking around the area with what appeared to be a large gun.

When officers arrived on the scene, they spotted a a Chevrolet pickup truck in the driveway that had been reported earlier in the day by Texas Highway Patrol, prompting them to call negotiators to assist. A patrolman said the man inside the vehicle was driving recklessly just after 11 a.m. and “trying to bait him into a confrontation.”

Lubbock County officers and its SWAT team also responded to the scene to assist, according to police.

“Because we did not have much information in regards to whether or not this weapon was truly in fact a real weapon or not, we took precautions,” Garcia said.

“We began to try to get negotiations started. We did make contact with him, very short and brief. He was very hostile. Did not want to visit with or talk to Levelland police officers at that time.”

Just moments after officers made initial contact, the suspect opened the door and unleashed a hail of gunfire in law enforcement’s direction. Garcia said Bartlett was struck in the chaos and died a short time later. Another four officers were wounded, including a Levelland police officer, who was rushed to a hospital for surgery. He has since emerged from the procedure and remained in stable but critical condition, KCBD reported.

Nearly 10 hours after the start of the standoff, authorities arrested Omar Soto Chavira, according to Lubbock County Sheriff spokesperson Kasie Davis. The 22-year-old suspect was the only person inside the residence and transported to a hospital to be treated for injuries.

The details leading up to his arrest and his condition remained unknown Friday afternoon.

Bartlett, an army veteran who served several tours overseas, leaves behind a wife and children. He spent nine years with the sheriff’s department.


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