HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Five Houston police officers were injured in a shooting Monday while trying to serve a drug warrant in the southeast part of the city. Four of the officers were shot while the other suffered an injury during the exchange of gunfire.
The mood in the city was somber as people awaited for an update on the conditions of the officers who were shot in the line of duty late Monday afternoon. Some encouraging news came in the form of a press conference Tuesday morning as Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo gave an update on the conditions of the injured officers.
According to officials, two of the officers were shot in the face and went through surgery. Doctors at Memorial Hermann hospital told the media in the news conference that those two officers are in stable condition but that one of them will require additional surgery for facial reconstruction.
One of the officers shot in the face, who is expected to be released later in the week is a 50-year-old and 25-year veteran of the department.
The other officer shot in the face is 54 years old and 32-year veteran. At the news conference, Acevedo described him a “teddy bear” and a “strong ox” and said he’s been shot in the line duty twice during his career with the department. He was shot in 1992 and again in 1997.
One officer was also shot in the incident but all Acevedo could say was that officer is in a fight but is stable.
A 33-year-old officer and 10-year veteran with the force was shot in the shoulder but was released from the hospital late Monday evening.
Officials say one of five injured officers suffered a knee injury during the gun battle and wasn’t shot. That officer is also in stable condition. Acevedo says the officer is 50 years old and a 27-year veteran.
News of the shooting was tweeted by the department at around 5:15 p.m Monday. It started when an undercover narcotics team tried to serve a warrant at a home where police say black tar heroin was sold out of. According to police, as soon as the officers showed up to the house, the suspects inside began firing at them, resulting in a lengthy gun battle.
Two of the suspects inside the house were killed by officers returning fire. They were identified as 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle.
According to Acevedo, officers began investigating the area after concerned neighbors told the department they did not want people dealing drugs in the neighborhood.
Inside the home, police found marijuana and a white, powdery substance that could be cocaine or fentanyl. Two shotguns and a rifle were also found inside the home.
The events and details of the whole shooting incident led to a fiery statement given by the president of the Houston Police Officer’s Union at a new conference Monday evening.
“We are sick and tired of having targets on our back. We are sick and tired of having dirt-bags trying to take our lives when all we’re trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough… Please pray for these officers,” said Joe Gamaldi.
The identities of the injured officers have not been released.
Shortly before 1:15 a.m., Acevedo tweeted his last update for the long evening, giving thanks for the support and for people to continue to pray for the officers.
“Finally home. Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for all of our officers who have been impacted and their families. Two critically wounded are out of surgery & in critical but stable condition. Also visited officer John Daily. All [officers] need prayer,” Acevedo tweeted.
Various police departments across North Texas offered their support to Houston as the situation unfolded.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters @Houstonpolice who advised they had multiple officers shot during an investigation this afternoon,” Arlington police tweeted.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the @houstonpolice officers, the families of the officers who were injured tonight, and #HoustonPD. @ArtAcevedo #Prayers #ThinBlueLine,” Dallas police said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued his statement on the shooting at around 6 p.m., describing it as a “horrific attack.”
“This evening’s horrific attack on police officers is a solemn reminder of the service and sacrifice our brave men and women in law enforcement make every day to keep us safe. The city of Houston and the Houston Police Department will have whatever state resources they need to bring swift justice to those involved. I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the officers injured, and for the continued safety of all law enforcement officers who protect our communities,” the governor said.