Two police officers were shot dead on Saturday by a suspect who later fatally shot himself in a border town in southern Texas after responding to a domestic disturbance call.
McAllen's chief of police, Victor Rodriguez, identified the murdered officers as Edelmiro Garza (45) and Ismael Chavez (39). Garza was a police officer for more than eight years, while Chavez had two years of experience.
"We lost two brave officials who just wanted to keep the peace in our city," Rodriguez said visibly upset about The (McAllen) Monitor.
The officers met for the first time with two people who reported attacks that occurred around 3:30 p.m. in a nearby house on the south side of McAllen. Saturday, said Rodriguez. The alleged gunman, who the police identified as 23-year-old Audon Ignacio Camarillo, opened fire when officials tried to enter the house.
"They did their job. You should do that. The person was a suspect in the incident, met our officers at the door, and shot both officers, "said Rodriguez." Both officers suffered fatal wounds, and both have died as a result. The officials never had a chance to suspect a lethal attack on them, let alone death. "
Camarillo shot himself shortly after the fire opened, Rodriguez said, adding that the suspect was hiding behind a vehicle after other officers reacted to the scene. According to public records, Camarillo had run-ins with the police from 2016 until his last arrest last month for assault.
Further details of the domestic unrest to which Garza and Chavez responded were not immediately known. Rodriguez said the attack happened suddenly and other police officers only found out about the officers' deaths when they arrived in the area a moment later.
Rodriguez said he did not expect his department to get over her colleagues' deaths soon.
"The next few days for us, also for the future, will be very, very difficult for us in the department and in the city of McAllen, but our strength will bring us through," said the boss. "We gather our strength from our police officers and our strengths from our colleagues, as you can see here."
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, speaking to Rodriguez, offered the full support of the state and expressed his support through social media.
"Two of our best were killed on duty while working to protect the residents of their community," Abbott wrote on Twitter. "We are joining #BackTheBlue."
Texas Department of Public Security spokesman Christopher Olivarez said DPS is one of the agencies that will support McAllen police on Saturday.
Olivarez noted that DPS dispatched soldiers to secure the scene after the McAllen Police Department asked for their support. He said his agency received a call about 4:30 p.m. about the incident.
McAllen is located on the southern tip of Texas, about 113 kilometers west of the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted that his office would provide the McAllen Police Department with any help it needed.
"Our prayers and our full support are with the brave men and women of #CityofMcAllen PD tonight," read the tweet. "We are grateful to the police in McAllen and this great state."
McAllen's US representative Vicente Gonzalez said in a statement that it was "devastating" to receive news of the two officials' deaths.
“This is devastating news for our community. My heart breaks for these fallen officers and their families, ”said Gonzalez. "You have served McAllen bravely and honorably, and I will keep them in my prayers."
Rodriguez said while the police are "weakened for the time being", he expects a resilient law enforcement community to stand tall and hold out.
"The strength and determination to serve our communities, all of us here, will enable us to do what we do every day," said Rodriguez.
Law enforcement agencies from several cities in Hidalgo County gathered at McAllen Medical on Saturday evening to honor Garza and Chavez. More than 50 police cars were part of a procession that accompanied the bodies of the officers who were brought to the pathology of Hidalgo County for autopsy.