In a tearful news conference, flanked by law enforcement officers from several agencies throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez revealed new details about the events that led to the death of one of their own, Cpl. Jose Luis Espericueta.
Espericueta, a 13-year veteran affectionately referred to as “Speedy,” was killed Thursday night after responding to reports of an armed man.
At approximately 8:05 p.m., a woman reported that her son, 33-year-old Juan Carlos Chapa Jr., had fired into her car with a handgun near the corner of Stewart Road and U.S. Business 83.
Espericueta arrived on the scene to assist in locating Chapa who was seen walking near the 1700 block of East Business Highway 83.
When Espericueta attempted to make contact, Chapa fled and simultaneously began firing his gun at Espericueta, hitting him.
Chapa, who had previous run-ins with law enforcement, continued to exchange gunfire with several officers and was also hit several times.
Espericueta was transported to McAllen Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 10:05 p.m. He’s the first Mission police officer killed in the line of duty since 1978, according to Dominguez.
Chapa was pronounced dead at Rio Grande Regional Hospital, though a time of death was not provided.
The Texas Rangers are continuing to investigate the shooting.
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, offered condolences to the officer’s family.
“Our community was kept safe by an officer who paid the ultimate price for us. We must do all we can to prevent senseless violence and crime in our communities and support our men and women on the force,” Gonzalez said in a prepared statement.
Dominguez had been in Austin when the shooting occurred — there to attend an awards ceremony held by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to honor another one of his officers — but was flown in to be with Espericueta’s family Thursday night.
He added he would be meeting with them Friday to address funeral arrangements which will be made public at a later time.
Fighting back tears, the chief thanked his law enforcement colleagues for their presence and their support.
“It is this type of relationship that we have as police officers that say a lot of what we do for our communities,” he said.
“Our officers as well as everyone in the line of duty work in an incredibly difficult environment,” Dominguez said. “At times, as we see today, this environment can be extremely dangerous.”
A Mission police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty Thursday night after being waved down regarding an armed person, leaving a community devastated and authorities investigating the circumstances that led to the deadly incident.
The officer, who has not been identified, was hospitalized at McAllen Medical Center after being shot in the vicinity of Stewart Road and Business 83 in Mission. He died later that night, according to Lt. Art Flores, spokesman for the Mission Police Department.
According to a statement from the city of Mission, the officer had been waved down “for a suspect with a weapon” and “gave his life protecting us.”
The suspected shooter, who has also not been identified, was arrested, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Texas Rangers are currently investigating.
A news conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday “to address the tragic loss of our police officer,” the city confirmed via Twitter.
Before the officer’s death was confirmed, the city addressed the shooting early Thursday evening, stating “with a heavy heart” that the officer was shot “while protecting our community.”
The city then tweeted another statement following confirmation of the officer’s death, stating: “We’re devastated. It’s w/the deepest sadness we share with you we lost one of our own. …There are no words to explain how heartbroken we are as a community.”
DPS also took to Twitter to express “thoughts and prayers” being with the Mission Police Department, as well as the family, friends and coworkers of the fallen officer. Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra shared similar sentiments.
Mayor Armando O’Caña called it “a sad day in Mission” on social media.
“Tonight we lost one of our own,” O’Caña said Thursday on Twitter. “Our Mission Police Officer was shot and killed protecting our Community. Our hearts are with the officer’s family. There are no words. The City of Mission will be fully standing by with the family during this tragedy.”