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A memorial honoring fallen San Marcos police officer Justin Putnam is growing as people decorate his patrol car near city hall on Hopkins Street. Putnam was killed during an ambush Saturday. Daily Record photos by Lance Winter

SMPD Interim Chief: ‘We lost a fine young man’

San Marcos police officer killed, two wounded after responding to call
Sunday, April 19, 2020

San Marcos Police Officer Justin Putnam was killed Saturday after a suspect in an assault/domestic violence case ambushed him and his fellow officers

Putnam, 31, was a 5-year San Marcos Police Department veteran. Officers Franco Stewart and Justin Mueller were injured during Saturday’s incident and were transported to Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle. Stewart and Mueller both underwent surgery and currently are in critical but stable condition, SMPD Interim Police Chief Bob Klett said during a press conference on Sunday.

“We lost a fine young man, a faithful officer and friend last night,” Klett said. “He graduated from Texas State University, magna cum laude, so he understood what it took to police a wonderfully diverse community like San Marcos and a college community.”

SMPD responded to an assault/domestic violence call at the Twin Lakes-Villa Apartments — 2917 Hunter Rd. — at approximately 6:05 p.m. on Saturday. Klett said the initial call stated that the suspect, who has been preliminarily identified as Alfredo Perez Delacruz, 46, hit his wife and there were other people in danger inside their apartment. Delacruz ambushed the officers as they entered the apartment, Klett said.

“He was prepared, ready for them to come in and started shooting immediately and there was nothing they could do to escape the gunfire,” Klett said, adding that Delacruz wore body armor during Saturday’s incident. 

Delacruz was found dead inside the apartment from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Klett said. 

Stewart has been an SMPD officer for 5 months and was previously an officer with the McAllen Police Department for over 2 years. Mueller has been an SMPD officer for 10 months and worked as a telecommunications operator for the department for more than 11 years. 

San Marcos Police Officer Justin Putnam was killed Saturday after a suspect in an assault/domestic violence case ambushed him and his fellow officers. Officers Franco Stewart and Justin Mueller were injured during Saturday’s incident and were transported to Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle. Stewart and Mueller both underwent surgery and currently are in critical but stable condition, SMPD Interim Police Chief Bob Klett said during a press conference on Sunday. 

“Our prayers are with these two officers and their families as they fight to recover from their wounds,” Klett said. 

State and local leaders were quick to respond to Saturday’s incident. 

“Tonight's shooting in San Marcos is a somber reminder of the service and sacrifice our brave men and women in law enforcement make every day to keep us safe,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the officer killed and for those injured, and for the continued safety of all law enforcement officers who protect our communities.”

“I extend my deep condolences to the family of the deceased officer, a dedicated public servant whose heroism proved critical to the safety of the San Marcos community," State Rep. Erin Zwiener said. "I ask all Texans to join me in pulling for the two officers currently undergoing treatment for their injuries. Law enforcement officers risk their lives everyday, and the House District 45 community will be there to support these heroes through their recovery.”

Police said a man ambushed the officers with a rifle at the Twin Lakes-Villa Apartments — 2917 Hunter Rd. SMPD shut down Hunter Road from Reimer Avenue to McCarty Lane to investigate an “incident” on Saturday.

SMPD warned residents around the area that there was a need to “shelter in place" and for the public to avoid the area as the scene had not been made safe at approximately 7:08 p.m. on Saturday. 

Putnam is the second police officer killed in the line of duty in San Marcos history. SMPD Officer Kenneth Copeland was killed while serving a warrant on Dec. 4, 2017. Over the last year, two SMPD officers — Claudia Cormier and Paul Beller — have been struck by vehicles while responding to calls on Interstate 35.

“We’ve had a lot of tragedy recently and we appreciate those prayers from the community,” Klett said.

This story has been updated.

San Marcos Record

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