LEVELLEAND, Texas– A SWAT commander was killed and four of his officers were wounded in a standoff with a barricaded gunman 30 miles outside of Lubbock, Texas.
SWAT Commander Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was taken to Covenant Health Levelland hospital, where he died of gunshot wounds, according to a sheriff’s office statement. Bartlett was the commander of the sheriff’s tactical unit and a nine-year veteran.
Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, was arrested after the violent standoff that lasted over ten hours. He had bonded out of jail four days earlier, after being arrested for assaulting various family members.
Chavira had bonded out of jail four days ago after being charged with assaulting family members. pic.twitter.com/YrEfDEQiB4
— Bryan Mudd (@BryanMuddKAMC) July 16, 2021
The events preceding the deadly standoff and shooting began at 11:17 a.m. Thursday, when a state trooper was conducting a traffic stop and encountered a different man who appeared to be trying to bait the officer into a confrontation, according to Levelland police Chief Albert Garcia. Apparently the man was driving erratically.
At 1:12 p.m. Thursday, Levelland police received a call from a person who said a neighbor “was acting strange and was walking around with what appeared to be a large gun,” Chief Garcia said. Officers determined the neighbor’s pickup truck matched the description that the trooper provided of the vehicle with the apparently provocative driver at the wheel.
Chief Garcia said investigators believed the “provocative driver” was alone in the house. Due to the report of the man being armed, a police negotiator tried to open a dialogue with the suspect, who was hostile and did not want a discussion. Moments later, the suspect opened the front door to the house and opened fire on the Levelland officers. “We did return fire, but it did not appear that we struck the suspect at that time,” the chief said.
Backup was called from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office tactical squad and the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office. “It wasn’t long thereafter that we had additional shots fired, and we had officers that were injured,” Chief Garcia said.
Gunfire was ongoing throughout the standoff. Numerous law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene, including local police, county deputies, Texas Rangers, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Local residents were told to evacuate or stay low to the floor and in the back of their homes.
Authorities used robots that deployed gas and drove the wounded Soto-Chivara out of the house.
Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lubbock County Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Bartlett.
Please join Heidi & me in lifting up Sgt. Bartlett and his family in prayer.
And please continue to pray for the brave officers injured in the line of duty today. https://t.co/1HuSTGQ8SN
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) July 16, 2021
Here Comes a Regular
Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres stated in a briefing that the suspect had a history of contact with police, but no specific details were provided.
Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson was in critical but stable condition at a local hospital. The other three officers were treated and released.
Ambush-style attacks on police are up 91% in 2021.