FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – An officer with the Fort Worth Police Department is recovering from serious injuries at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth on Wednesday after a Tuesday shootout with a wanted fugitive and that suspect’s son. The wanted man is now dead, and the son is behind bars.
The injured officer has been identified as Matthew Pearce. He has been on the force for almost seven years, and is said to have suffered gunshot wounds to the mouth, shoulder and leg. He also received a contusion to his heart, likely due to the impact of a bullet on his body armor. Pearce remains in critical condition, but is said to be doing well in his fight and is able to speak. A GoFundMe page has been set up for Pearce’s family.
Pearce was transported to the JPS Hospital late Tuesday afternoon by air ambulance. “We are all in this together and hope for the best,” said Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson on Tuesday.
The incident started near the intersection of Interstate-30 and Hulen Street. Investigators explained that Pearce was part of a fugitive task force serving warrants on Ed McIver Sr. for several charges including aggravated assault and family violence. The 43-year-old suspect and 21-year-old son Ed McIver Jr. fled first by car to an area close to the intersection of Interstate-30 and Longvue Avenue. They then took off on foot into a heavily wooded area, firing shots at police.
Chief Joel Fitzgerald with the Fort Worth Police Department stated that gunfire was exchanged between the two suspects and several officers. McIver Sr. was killed during that shootout, and a handgun was found near his body.
Authorities then began a massive manhunt for McIver Jr. as Pearce’s family raced to be by his side at the hospital. Hundreds of local, state and federal agents scoured the area searching for the young suspect. He was located within a two-mile perimeter and taken into custody without further incident. McIver Jr. was carrying a rifle when he was arrested.
McIver Jr. was taken to the Mansfield jail and his bond has been set at more than $2 million. He faces a lengthy list of charges including attempted capital murder of a peace officer, evading arrest and unlawfully carrying a weapon.
The mother McIver Sr. (and grandmother of McIver Jr.) said that her son had been in and out of jail for livestock theft, assault and burglary. He told the family that he would not go back to prison again, but nobody ever thought that he would end up in a deadly shootout with police. She described her grandson as “good-hearted,” said that he probably ran out of fear, and doubts that he was the one who shot Pearce.
“I know they can get a little crazy from time to time, but certainly didn’t think that murder or especially shooting a cop,” added Summer Hardin, the wanted father’s niece. “I saw all the commotion and the law, and I never would have imagined it was our family. It’s a real tragedy for both the law enforcement that was hurt as well as our family. That was my uncle.”
The family said that McIver Jr. had just recently become a father.
Meanwhile, dozens of law enforcement officials visited Pearce at the hospital in a show of support for the injured officer. This incident had an immediate and dramatic impact on Pearce’s family, the local police family and the community. “I visited with his wife,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told the media on Tuesday night. “She is an incredibly strong woman and she wanted everyone of your viewers and readers to understand that she feels their prayers.”
The Fort Worth Police Department also posted photographs on social media showing officers, city officials and city employees joining together in prayer on Tuesday night.
At a news conference held Wednesday morning, Fitzgerald had kind words to say about Pearce and other responding officers in this case. “He’s a hero, and every officer out there is a hero,” Fitzgerald stated. “I don’t know that most people outside of law enforcement understand what it takes to walk into a situation where someone’s armed and you know that gunfire has already been exchanged. But you still walk forward.”
The police chief described how officers had to wade through waist-deep thickets and mud to locate McIver Jr. on Tuesday, all the time vulnerable to a possible ambush. “I cannot name every agency that was involved, that is how much cooperation we got,” Fitzgerald explained on Wednesday. “We have brave individuals.”