Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
As a public service, public health stories are free to Central Texans during the coronavirus crisis. Please support our local journalists by subscribing today. Call 512-392-2458.

Gunman captured in Texas standoff that killed 1 officer, wounded 4

Sunday, July 18, 2021

LEVELLAND (AP) — Authorities captured the suspect late Thursday following an hourslong police standoff where one officer was killed and four others were wounded in a small West Texas city.

Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, was injured when he was taken into custody around 11:30 p.m. at a home in Levelland, police Chief Albert Garcia told reporters. The suspect was being transported to a hospital in Lubbock for treatment, Garcia said. The extent of the suspect's injuries was not disclosed.

Authorities used robots to enter the home, then deployed gas which drew Soto-Chivara out of the residence, Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said at the briefing.

The standoff between the suspect and law enforcement had begun at the home around 1 p.m. after someone reported a man as possibly armed along the residential street in Levelland, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Lubbock. The confrontation escalated quickly, gunfire erupted as the suspect barricaded himself inside a house, and a standoff ensued.

Three of the wounded officers were taken to a Lubbock hospital. Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was taken to Covenant Health Levelland hospital and died of his wounds, according to a sheriff’s office statement. Bartlett was the commander of the sheriff’s tactical unit.

Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson was in critical but stable condition in University Medical Center in Lubbock after surgery, said Garcia. The other three officers were treated for minor injuries and had been discharged from the hospital, he said.

Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres had said the suspect had a history of contact with police. He also said Bartlett, leader of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT command, was a nine-year veteran of the department who had served overseas in the U.S. Army.

“Josh was a true servant,” Rowe said. “He personified the true professional in law enforcement, especially here in Texas law enforcement.”

It was not immediately clear what prompted the man to open fire or to barricade himself in the house. However, the standoff capped a string of events that began at 11:17 a.m. Thursday as a state trooper was conducting a traffic stop, Garcia said.

Levelland is the Hockley County seat and a local oil, cotton and cattle center that is home to about 13,500 residents.

This story was edited for length.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666