HOUSTON — Houston police Sgt. Harold Preston was shot and killed Tuesday morning while answering a domestic disturbance call at an apartment complex in west Houston.
He was 65.
“We have lost a wonderful human being," Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference Tuesday outside Memorial Hermann hospital. "As good as he was as a cop, he was a better human being."
Tuesday's fatal shooting happened around 9 a.m. at the Richmond Manor apartments in the 2600 block of Holly Hall.
The shooting led to a brief SWAT standoff before the suspect – identified as 51-year-old Elmer Manzano – was taken into custody and then to the hospital. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach area, Acevedo said. Acevedo said he has an extensive criminal history and officers had responded to the apartment several times over the weekend.
Houston police Officer Courtney Waller (pictured below) was shot in the arm, but he is expected to be OK. Acevedo said Waller is a three-year veteran of the force.
Manzano's 14-year-old son was also shot in the arm during the incident. He was taken to Texas Children's Hospital for treatment and is expected to be OK.
Who was Sgt. Harold Preston?
Preston was sworn in as a Houston police officer on Aug. 25, 1979.
He was in HPD Academy Class No. 86 and was a 41-year veteran of the force.
In April 2016, Preston was off duty when a would-be intruder tried to break into the home he shared with his elderly parents.
At the time, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said Preston warned the man to leave and when he broke the glass of his front door, Preston shot the man.
"Our sergeant and his family were awakened to someone pounding on the front door," Acevedo said at the time. "(Preston) armed himself, came to the door, and started yelling several commands: ‘Who are you? What do you want?' and the suspect ignored the commands."
Acevedo said the suspect continued to pound the door, eventually punching through the glass. That’s when Preston shot the man, identified at the time as 36-year-old Patrick Jenkins.
Jenkins survived the shooting and Preston was temporarily placed on restricted administrative duty.
When Preston was shot on Tuesday, Acevedo said his elderly mother was able to reach Memorial Hermann before he died.
Acevedo said Preston was a man of faith and was surrounded by his family at the end of his life.
"He was not alone," Acevedo said.
Acevedo also said Preston was just a few weeks away from retirement.
"Rest in Peace, brother," the Houston Police Officer's Union said in a statement Tuesday. "You will always be remembered and your sacrifice will never be forgotten."
Preston was a member of the Afro American Police Officers League. Waller is also a member.
Tributes pour in for Sgt. Harold Preston
Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Chief Acevedo at Tuesday's news conference outside Memorial Hermann hospital.
"This is not where any of us wanted to be at this point in time," Turner said. "Thank you, Sgt. Harold Preston. Pray for our city."
Gov. Greg Abbott issued the following statement: "Our hearts are with the family of Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston who was shot and killed in the line of duty this morning," said Governor Abbott. "This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the dangers our brave law enforcement officers face while keeping our communities safe. Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in lifting up Sgt. Preston's family in prayer in their time of need. We also ask all Texans to pray for the speedy recovery of Houston Police Officer Courtney Waller who was shot while responding to the same incident and is recovering in the hospital. The state stands ready to assist the Houston Police Department in bringing to justice the perpetrators of this horrific tragedy."
"Heartbroken over the loss of Sergeant Harold Preston who bravely served our community for over four decades," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "Our thoughts go out to his family, the entire Houston Police Department, and all who served with him as he kept our community safe."
"HPD Sgt Harold Preston was murdered in cold blood today," Houston Police Officers Union President Joe Gamaldi said. "He served Houston honorably for 41 years, was weeks from retirement, he did not deserve this. Please keep his family and all of our officers in your thoughts/prayers as we attempt to make sense of any of this. RIP Brother"