An injured suspect is in custody after an 11-hour standoff which left one SWAT Commander dead and four other officers wounded, two seriously. Thursday was a long day for police near Lubbock Texas.
Armed barricade standoff
According to various local reports and a statement from law enforcement officials, one officer was killed Thursday, July 15, and four other officers were wounded, when the armed suspect, later identified as Omar Soto-Chavira, opened fire on “officers from multiple agencies” during a barricade standoff. SWAT Commander Josh Bartlett was pronounced dead at Covenant Medical Center from gunshot wounds.
The Sergeant with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was a 9-year veteran on the force and left behind a wife and three children.
The bizarre incidents began long before the fatal standoff with a strange encounter around 11:17 a.m. Thursday. A state trooper was conducting a traffic stop and “during that traffic contact, he had a separate individual that was driving recklessly.”
When he called it in, the trooper reported the person “appeared to be trying to bait him into some type of confrontation,” Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia relates. Two hours later, “Levelland Police received reports of a man acting strange and walking around with what appeared to be a gun.”
The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office confirms Sgt. Josh Bartlett was killed in Levelland Thursday.
Three other police officers remain hospitalized in Lubbock as of now.
A barricaded suspect is still inside a home in Levelland. Law enforcement remains in the scene. pic.twitter.com/mI7k86o9yF
— Michael A. Cantu | KCBD (@MCantuNews) July 16, 2021
When members of Levelland Police Department arrived, they “identified a vehicle matching the description of the one provided by the trooper from earlier in the day.” The vehicle was a “white Chevy” and the suspect was barricaded inside and firing shots. The first thing they did was “call in a negotiator.”
The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team responded to the scene at 2:15 p.m. Local reports note, “The negotiations did not last long as Chief Garcia claimed that the man was acting very hostile. This hostility led Chavira to open fire on the officers from out the front door of the residence on the 1300 block of Kent.” Thats when Bartlett and the other officers were shot and the standoff began in earnest.
Suspect was known
Levelland Police Sergeant Shawn Wilson remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition following surgery at University Medical Center. Another officer is in critical condition while the remaining two were treated and released. Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres notes that the standoff suspect was previously “known to his office” but wasn’t saying much other than that.
Their jail roster shows, “Soto-Chavira had been arrested twice in June: once on June 25 on an assault causing bodily harm complaint, and again on June 29 on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, among several other complaints.”
The suspect in Thursday's 11 hour standoff with law enforcement, including ATF and FBI, has been identified as 22-year-old Omar Soto-Chavira. He has been transported to Lubbock to be treated for his injuries after being taken into custody. Details here: https://t.co/sv0IE3weAH pic.twitter.com/nDp9du9iyk
— KCBD NewsChannel11 (@KCBD11) July 16, 2021
After the initial gunfight, another SWAT team was called in from Lubbock. The FBI and ATF went along for the ride. After Chavira shot the officers he remained barricaded inside the home for a full 11-hour standoff.
The police kept him busy by filling the “house with massive amounts of chemical munitions.” He’s expected to be charged with “capital murder and attempted capital murder, among other charges.”
Reporters aren’t clear about exactly how the situation ended other than the 22-year old “suspect was taken into custody just before midnight” and “has been transported to a hospital in Lubbock to be treated for injuries after officers used robots to end the standoff.”
The Texas Rangers are now taking over the investigation. The local police community is mourning the loss of Sergeant Josh Bartlett. “He personified the true professional in law enforcement, especially here in Texas law enforcement.”