McAllen police shoot suspect who hit, dragged officer with vehicle

Pharr police investigate a police shooting at a car wash near a Tejano Mart convenience store along south Cage Boulevard on Wednesday in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

By FRANK JIMENEZ and MARK REAGAN | Staff Writers

The McAllen Police Department says a burglary suspect hit, pinned and then dragged an officer, who Pharr police says was plain-clothed, with a car as the officer tried to serve a burglary warrant before another McAllen officer opened fire, hitting the suspect.

The officer’s injuries were described as severe and the suspect is said to have a non-life threatening bullet wound to his shoulder, according to McAllen police.

The McAllen Police Department says the suspect is 44-year-old Hector A. Garza, who was wanted on a warrant for burglary of a building. Garza now faces a charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer for the incident that occurred at approximately 4:52 p.m.

McAllen police say Garza was shot in his right upper shoulder. Pharr police took him to the hospital where personnel there described his injury as non-life threatening, authorities say.

“The responding Officers were Officers Jose L. Garcia and Officer Danny Leal, 30 and 17 years of service with the McAllen Police Department, respectively,” McAllen police say.

Garcia suffered severe injuries to his left hand, left arm and left shoulder, McAllen police said.

“Officer Garcia was transported to a local hospital for emergency medical care,” the news release states. “The responding Officer that discharged his duty weapon at the suspect is Officer Leal.”

McAllen police said in a news release that Garza reversed his vehicle as he was about to be arrested and pinned an officer with his vehicle door and a car wash stall.

“Responding Officers observed the suspect in a car wash stall at Cage Rd. and Hall Acres in South Pharr. Responding Officers, in two units, approached the suspect while in the car stall,” the news release states.

One officer approached the suspect vehicle’s front door and one approached the rear left river side door of that vehicle, according to McAllen police.

“The responding Officer at the driver side of the suspect vehicle reached inside the vehicle door to arrest the suspect, as he did, the suspect drove in reverse and then forward at high speed. While in reverse motion, the suspect pinned the arresting Officer with the vehicle door and car wash stall. The suspect dragged the arresting Officer and upon driving forward charged at the Officer at the front of the suspect vehicle,” the news release states.

Pharr police investigate a police shooting at a car wash near a Tejano Mart convenience store along south Cage Boulevard on Wednesday in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

That’s when Leal opened fire, according to McAllen police.

“The Officer at the front of the suspect vehicle discharged his duty weapon at the suspect. The suspect nonetheless fled the scene but drove into a wooded area directly east of the car wash. The suspect was later located and arrested at adjacent retail establishment by Pharr Police Officers,” McAllen said in a news release.

In a text Wednesday afternoon, Pharr Police Department Sgt. Michael Mendoza initially confirmed the incident, saying one of the McAllen officers were plain-clothed officers serving a burglary warrant.

“(McAllen) officers identified the suspect at 2600 S. Cage and made contact. While making contact with the suspect, the suspect fled in his vehicle, striking the plain clothes officer,” said Pharr police spokesman Michael Mendoza. “A second plain clothes officer then fired multiple times at the suspect vehicle striking the suspect at least once.”

The suspect drove behind a Dollar General into a wooded area where he was caught after a foot pursuit, Mendoza said.

“No bystanders were injured during this incident,” Mendoza said. “Both the suspect and a plain clothes investigator were transported to local hospitals for treatment.”

McAllen police say the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Pharr Police Department are the investigating agencies on the case.

fjimenez@themonitor.com

mreagan@themonitor.com