Prosecutors said the undocumented immigrant accused of killing a Houston police officer and wounding another was charged and could face the death penalty.
Elmer Manzano, 51, faces capital murder and attempted capital murder charges in the death of Houston police Sgt. Harold Preston and the shooting of officer Courtney Waller.
According to court documents, they were shot during a domestic violence call at an apartment complex. Manzano also is charged with aggravated assault.
Sgt. Preston was a 41-year veteran of the police force and Waller has been with the department for three years.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg filed a request for a court hearing to ask that Manzano be denied bail. The filing also noted that there is strong evidence he will “probably be punished by the death penalty,” Ogg’s office said.
The officers were responding to an apartment complex in southwest Houston after Manzano’s estranged wife said she was moving out and wanted to get some things from inside. They spoke with the woman and her 14-year-old son in a parking lot for about an hour before the boy unlocked the apartment door and alerted officers that his father had a gun.
Manzano allegedly opened fire and hitting Preston, Waller, and his son. Preston was shot multiple times. Waller and the boy are expected to recover. The suspect surrendered to authorities after barricading himself inside the apartment.
On Tuesday, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said that officers went to the residence twice last weekend for domestic issues. After the shooting, critics said Manzano should have been charged after the earlier responses.
Ogg’s office said in a statement that any attempt to blame prosecutors for Tuesday’s shooting is “sadly political and not factual.”
“The only person responsible for this horrible crime is the killer himself,” the statement reads. “The record speaks for itself; the officers in these cases didn’t believe that a crime had occurred and that left no evidence on which to base any charges.”
According to media reports, Manzano is a Salvadoran national living in the United States without documentation, has at least four arrests, including assault and unlawfully carrying a firearm dating back to 1994.