FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The search for a murder suspect led to a shooting involving a Tarrant County Sheriff’s Deputy Wednesday night at an apartment complex in west Fort Worth. The incident happened at around 11:30 p.m. along Las Vegas Trail while a number of officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant.
The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department explained that deputies had been watching Tony Novello at the apartment complex from a vacant unit, but felt threatened at some point during the operation. At least one officer opened fire on the 24-year-old man as he was outside attempting to flee in a car.
Novello was struck in the arm by one of the bullets. He was taken to JP Smith Hospital and is expected to be okay. He is now sitting in a special area of the hospital reserved for inmates, being heavily guarded while receiving medical care. Officials are not sure how long he will remain at the hospital.
Investigators have named Novello as the suspect in the in the shooting death of Alec Puente of Azle. Authorities stated that he and the 22-year-old victim got into a fight at Hilltop RV Park in Tarrant County at about 2:00 a.m. early Tuesday, and Novello allegedly shot Puente in the stomach.
According to officials, Novello left the scene in a black Honda Accord that was tracked back to the west Fort Worth apartment complex. “We had this place right here under surveillance for most of the week,” said Terry Grisham with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, “and we developed intelligence that said he would possibly be in the area, that the car had been seen.”
Katrina Wharton had a run-in with the suspect at the apartment complex earlier on Wednesday morning. “This guy drives up in a car, jumps out and asks me if I had a phone. His buddy kicked him out, he said,” Wharton recalled. “I said no, I don’t have a phone.”
It was Wharton’s husband who knew that the car was linked to a crime. “My husband came home and I was like, okay, it’s not just another person, it’s somebody we don’t want around here,” Wharton said. She saw police come after Novello. “Started to get in the car. As soon as they got in the car, put it in reverse, cops come out five-deep out of the apartment.”
Officials have not said if Novello fired at officers before he was fired upon, but nobody else was shot during this incident. One deputy did suffer a foot injury that is not thought to be serious. Wharton said that Novello ran over the deputy’s foot with his car while trying to escape.
“He was trying to flee the officers,” Wharton added. “They were telling him stop, get out, stop the car.” Other residents at the apartment complex are now just concerned with keeping their homes safe.
“The next step in this little saga is that we want to get him in jail as quickly as possible,” added Grisham. “He will eventually be transferred to Tarrant County jail and we’re looking forward to that.”