A highway patrol trooper noticed a Chevrolet pickup truck driving recklessly, and hours later, a call came in from a resident in Levelland indicating a “neighbor [was] acting strange” and walking around with a “large gun,” said Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia.
“Our community mourns the loss of Sgt. Josh Bartlett, with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team,” the Levelland Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. “He gave his life in the defense of the citizens of Levelland today. We send our heartfelt prayers to his family, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service, Sgt. Bartlett. It is a debt we can never repay.”
Authorities made contact with the suspect, who was later identified as Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, though he was “hostile” toward officers, and he allegedly opened fire on the team of law enforcement.
Sgt. Josh Bartlett, the chief of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, was killed in the incident, and three other officers were wounded. One of the injured law enforcement personnel had surgery to remove a bullet and fragmentation and he has since been listed in “stable, but critical condition.” Police are “hopeful that he’s gonna recover well.”
An unspecified number of officers were treated and released from medical facilities.
Texas authorities responded to the initial call around 1 p.m., and Soto-Chavira was brought into custody at about 11:30 p.m. Soto-Chavira was transported to a hospital for unspecified injuries following the standoff.
The incident drew the attention of Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who urged the state’s residents to “pray for the brave officers” involved.
“Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lubbock County Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Bartlett,” the Republican wrote. “Please join Heidi & me in lifting up Sgt. Bartlett and his family in prayer. And please continue to pray for the brave officers injured in the line of duty today.”
Republican Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington also extended his sympathies.
“I ask the people of West Texas to pray for the family of Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, who was tragically killed in the line of duty today,” he tweeted. “May God bless all the victims of today’s shooting, their families, and our community at this difficult time.”
A motive for the shooting was not immediately disclosed by law enforcement.
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