Sgt. Harold Preston, a 41-year veteran, succumbed to the multiple gunshots that he received when he and officer Courtney Waller and another officer respond to a domestic disturbance.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo gave a brief rundown of the incident as they know it at this time. At 7:55 am, the estranged wife of the suspect Elmer Manzano, a 51year old Hispanic Salvadorian male, called 911 and reported that she was attempting to move out of the apartment and that Manzano would not allow her in to retrieve her belongings.
Multiple times over the weekend a call for assistance was placed for this address with no one being taken into custody or charges being filed.
Officers arrived and attempted to contact Manzano and get him to open the door to no avail. Manzanos 14-year-old son used a key to unlock and open the door, and that is when they encountered Manzano with a gun, who began firing at the officers.
Manzano struck the 14-year-old in the shoulder, Officer Walker in the arm, and Sgt. Preston was hit multiple times in the head and once in his spine.
The shooting led to a brief SWAT standoff before the suspect was located and was also taken to the hospital. Manzano suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen. There’s no official word on the extent of his injuries.
Acevedo praised Sgt. Preston, as he talked about the fact that as a man in his 60’s, he could have been behind a desk, he chose to walk with his officers instead. Sgt. Preston lived at home with his elderly parents so that he could take care of them.
An ex-gang member who was filming the incident went to assist the officers when the shooting started. He placed a tourniquet to officer Waller’s arm and helped get him away from the gunfire. He then returned and secured the officer’s gun, who had dropped it after he was shot.
Chief Acevedo remarked how thankful he was and that the unnamed man was a hero and that they will honor his brave actions at some time in the future. He said this young man had turned his life around and had given his life over to God and had turned away from the streets.
Prior to the press conference, the scene of nearly fifty officers and personnel outside of the hospital was somber. Mayor Sylvester Turner locked arm and arm with everyone present and led the group in prayer. The grief was palpable.
In a time when anti-police rhetoric is at an all-time high, it is heartwarming to know that there are still those that care about the officers of this country. The loss of Sgt. Preston comes on the heels of the death of a fire investigator Lemuel Bruce, 44, is the first arson investigator in HFD’s history to be shot in the line of duty.