FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth Police Department veteran Officer Xavier Serrano has been released from the hospital. Serrano and an Officer in Training, Ray Azucena, were shot late Friday night by a man who was allegedly dealing with mental health issues.
Wearing a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap and with his arm in a sling Officer Serrano was wheeled from John Peter Smith Hospital in a wheelchair. Serrano didn’t speak but smiled as other officers stood at salute and the crowd applauded as he was taken to a waiting vehicle.
Officer Serrano’s wife, Caroline, spoke briefly after Officer Serrano stood and took a seat in the darkly tinted SUV. Commenting about how her family had been overwhelmed by compassion generosity and thoughtfulness from family friends and strangers she said, “The community has shown us unbelievable acceptance, gratitude and appreciation for the dedication my husband has for law enforcement.”
Mrs. Serrano thanked everyone for praying for Officer Serrano’s safety and healing. “I’m grateful that my husband works in a community that understands the sacrifice that police officers make in order to keep its citizens safe.”
Officer Serrano had to have surgery after being shot three times — once in the hand, left arm and upper torso. Officer Ray Azucena was shot once in the chest, but the body armor he was wearing stopped the round. He was treated and released from the hospital not long after the shooting.
Speaking of Azucena’s injuries Officer Fort Worth police spokesman Sergeant Marc Povero said, “The bruise on his body is directly over his heart. So had he not had that ballistic vest we could be planning a funeral and that goes for Officer Xavier Serrano as well.”
As for Officer Serrano’s gunshot to the upper torso Sergeant Povero said, “He had a wound to his chest consistent with a shot that would have been fatal.” But Serrano too was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Both of the officers were shot as they responded to call of a possible suicide in the 3800 block of Wharton Drive. When the pair arrived they found 81-year-old Carl Fleece dead. Believing he had commited sucide the officers went to a back shed to talk to his son, Martin Craig Fleece, about the incident — it was then that they were ambushed.
After the shootings Fort Worth SWAT found Martin Craig Fleece dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Investigators say Fleece had told his family his father committed suicide and they called police, when in fact he had murdered him.
Both Officers Serrano and Azucena are expected to recover but officials aren’t sure when they’ll be able to return to duty.
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