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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Houston Police Officer Killed in Shooting, Another Wounded

A 41-year veteran of the Houston police department was fatally shot Tuesday while responding to a call involving a domestic dispute.

HOUSTON (CN) — A 41-year veteran of the Houston Police Department was fatally shot Tuesday while responding to a call involving a domestic dispute.

Houston Police Sergeant Harold Preston died after he was shot twice in the head and once in the spine at an apartment complex.

Preston and two other officers went to the complex around 8 a.m. after a woman called police and said she was moving out of her apartment but her estranged husband would not let her inside to get some things.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo identified the suspect as Elmer Manzano, 51, at a news conference.

At around 9:30 a.m., Acevedo said, Manzano’s 14-year-old son unlocked the apartment’s front door and yelled to police his father had a gun.

Manzano opened fire. He shot both his son and HPD officer Courtney Waller in the arm and Preston multiple times.

A SWAT team was called in and they moved Preston away from the apartment door. Houston Fire Department paramedics took Preston, Waller and Manzano’s son to the hospital.

Around 10:30 a.m., with SWAT officers surrounding his apartment, Manzano came out and surrendered, Acevedo said at the news conference in front of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

“This man’s been around for 41 years and people throw out the word hero all the time and I’m not calling him a hero because of the way he died. But he is a hero,” Acevedo said of Preston. “He’s a guy that’s in his 60s…And he’s leading from where we want our sergeants to lead, from the front.”

The police chief added, “He’s leading with his men and women on the streets instead of choosing to sit in an office, drinking coffee and reading the paper. That’s the man he was.”

Acevedo said Preston lived with and took care of his elderly parents. The chief said Preston succumbed to his wounds in the hospital after his parents, his 23-year-old daughter, his fiancée and his ex-wife came and saw him take his last breath.

An honor guard of HPD motorcycle officers escorted Preston’s body from the hospital to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday afternoon.

A Good Samaritan who was washing his car in the apartment complex when Manzano opened fire reportedly rushed in and grabbed Waller after he was shot in the arm and pulled him out of harm’s way.

The shooting comes after a Houston Fire Department arson investigator was fatally shot early Friday morning by a man who then killed himself.

Police said Lemuel Bruce was part of a team investigating a spate of car fires and had just discovered a car matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle when shots rang out and Bruce was hit in the torso.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday urged first responders to rely on their faith to help them deal with the loss of their colleagues.

“You have to rely on something greater than yourself and for me I rely on my faith,” said Turner, surrounded by police and firefighters at the news conference.

“This is a moment in a very tough year where you still have to be able to muster the inner strength and peace to continue to function,” he added. “And that’s what I said to these police officers, even with the hurt and pain everyone is experiencing we still have to do our jobs. You find your purpose and you move forward. And you have to believe there’s a lot of good that still exists.”      

Turner thanked Acevedo for telling about the man who came to Waller’s aid.

“Because in the midst of this tragedy there’s a heck of a lot of good and it’s right here in our city,” he said.

Waller, a three-year HPD veteran, is expected to be released soon from the hospital.

Manzano was also shot in the stomach by police.

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