A Donna police officer who was on his way to work Friday morning was shot by an unknown assailant, authorities say.
The officer, who had been in uniform, was traveling from his McAllen home to Donna when he was fired upon by a passenger in another vehicle as the officer traveled along South McColl Road, said Lt. Joel Morales, spokesperson for McAllen police.
The bullet struck the officer’s bulletproof vest and he was uninjured.
“We had a call for service, a shooting, this morning at approximately 5:18 a.m.,” Morales said.
“Reporting officers made contact with the reporting party and determined that (the) victim reported he was traveling south towards the city of Hidalgo, Texas on McColl Road and that a passenger in a vehicle in front of him exited and shot him,” he added.
Morales said the bullet of an unknown caliber struck, but did not penetrate, the officer’s vest.
Police have yet to release details regarding the suspect, the passenger vehicle or potential motives for the shooting. Morales said the investigation remains ongoing.
Reached for comment Friday, Donna police Chief Gilbert Guerrero said the news that one of his own officers had been fired upon shocked him.
“He took a bullet to his stomach area. We’re lucky he’s still alive,” Guerrero said.
The chief speculated the officer, who was riding a motorcycle at the time of the shooting, may have been targeted because of his uniform.
“You wear a uniform. He had his badge, the gun, the belt. Those are distinctive features that all police officers wear every day. Whoever shot him knew he was … some type of law enforcement,” Guerrero said.
The officer fled after being shot, returning home where his wife called McAllen police.
Guerrero lauded his officer, who joined the force earlier this year.
“He’s a good kid. Very respectable, comes to work on time. He’s just a good, good officer for us and it’s unfortunate what happened so early in his career,” the chief said.
He added that the officer’s post with Donna is his first as a police officer, and that the man previously served as a paramedic with another city’s fire department.
Donna Mayor Rick Morales was also struck by the brashness of the crime. Late Friday afternoon, the mayor announced he was personally offering a $2,500 reward for any information that will lead to the arrest of the shooter.
The mayor said he proffered the $2,500 as seed money and hopes to grow the reward to $10,000.
“As a mayor, law enforcement, my police officers are very near and dear to me and I always make sure that they have the equipment and gear — everything that they need to be successful and to be safe so they can go home to their families after their shift,” Rick Morales said.
Like the chief, Morales expressed his thankfulness for the bulletproof vest that saved the officer’s life.
“These officers put their lives on the line every single day. When they go out, they don’t know if they’re gonna come back home,” Rick Morales said.
After the shooting, McAllen police Chief Victor Rodriguez called to brief Guerrero on the investigation.
“I have a lot of confidence in McAllen PD to do a good job. … They’re a first-class organization and I know that they can work the case,” Guerrero said.
Meanwhile, Guerrero said he reminded his officers to maintain their vigilance regarding their personal safety, and expressed his gratitude that his officer was uninjured.
“I want to thank God that my guy is still alive and he’s here with us,” Guerrero said. “Now, wearing a uniform might be dangerous out there now.”
As for the mayor, he had a simple message for those involved in the shooting: surrender.
“Do the right thing. Turn yourself in,” Rick Morales said.