MISSION — Police officers here and a deputy from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office shot at a Sullivan City commissioner during a five-hour standoff that began Thursday night, likely killing him, Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez said during a news conference Friday.
Gabriel Salinas, 39, had hemophilia, which likely contributed to his death, Dominguez added.
“Obviously that didn’t help,” he said.
A neighbor called police after Salinas’ 39-year-old girlfriend showed up to his home “bleeding profusely.”
She displayed several lacerations which had either been caused by a knife or a machete, Dominguez said.
Two police officers tried to approach the home in the 1400 block of Viejo Lane via a garage after making contact with the victim. When they neared the home, her 4-year-old son approached them, visibly injured.
Police immediately removed him from the home and when they tried to go back in, Salinas allegedly started shooting at them, forcing them to take cover behind a police unit. They managed to retrieve a rifle from the unit and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who then went into the home and locked himself in.
Sometime later, police called Salinas’ family and had them come to the scene to try to talk Salinas out of the residence. At one point, police also sent in a robot from the Texas Department of Public Safety Special Response Team with a cellphone his sister gave police so Salinas could speak to them.
When the robot went into the home, it moved around the house and found two doors were closed.
Because the robot was holding the phone on the “hand,” it could not open the door. So police took the robot out of the home, taped the cellphone to it and sent it back in.
At that point, the robot opened the bedroom door and found Salinas laying in a pool of blood in a bedroom.
“I think he died as a result of being hit between (the exchange of gunfire),” Dominguez said, noting three law enforcement officers discharged their weapons: two Mission policemen and one Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputy.
He said the Texas Rangers had taken over the investigation, which was confirmed early Friday morning by DPS spokesperson Maria Montalvo. This is typical protocol when there is an officer-involved shooting, Dominguez said.
Dominguez also noted COVID-19 has taken a toll on the community and may have played a factor.
“People have been in quarantine in their homes trying to avoid the virus and so forth, and tempers flare and sometimes unfortunately people don’t know how to deal with situations like that,” he said.
However, Dominguez also said their statistics from March, April, May and June don’t necessarily reflect that.
“Actually, we have less assaults this year than we had last year,” he said.
The woman remains in an intensive care unit at McAllen Medical Center. She underwent surgery Thursday night and is in critical condition, but expected to recover, Dominguez said.
The four year-old boy was also treated for minor injuries to the head and knee, and he was released from the hospital Thursday night.
Dominguez declined to confirm whether Salinas was a Sullivan City commissioner but said he was previously arrested in September for domestic violence, which coincides with the city commissioner’s arrest last year.
“The suspect is still a human being, and we’re with the family right now,” the police chief told the media in Spanish. “And it’s really hard to have to tell his mom and his sisters that he died.”
Monitor staff writer Naxiely Lopez-Puente contributed to this report.