Assailant ‘came out of nowhere’ and shot officers in back as they responded to ‘disturbance’
At approximately 2.15am on Saturday, the three Harris County Precinct 4 constable deputies who were working an extra job at the 45 Norte Sports Bar, went outside after a report of a “disturbance” — thought to have been a robbery.
While two of the deputies were detaining a suspect who they had on the ground, another person emerged from behind a car and opened fire with an AR-15 rifle.
The assailant “came out of nowhere”, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told reporters.
Heading the gunshots, the third deputy ran out of the building and was also shot before he could draw his gun. All three were shot from behind.
A post on the precinct’s Facebook page identified the officers. Deputy Kareem Atkins, 30, who had been with Precinct 4 since January 2019, died of his injuries. Deputy Atkins had recently returned to work after becoming a father and leaves behind a wife and six-month-old child.
Deputy Darrell Garrett, 38, who joined Precinct 4 in March 2018, was shot in the back and underwent surgery. He remains in intensive care at Hermann Hospital.
The officer who rushed outside after hearing the shots was deputy Juqaim Barthen, 26, who has been with the precinct since September 2019.
There is little information on the identity of the shooter, other than that he is a Hispanic male in his early twenties.
One person is in custody, but it is unclear if this is a suspect or a witness, ABC 7 reports.
“Deputies Atkins, Garrett, and Barthen are true law enforcement heroes that were cowardly ambushed while serving and protecting their community,” said Constable Herman.
It is unclear what the extra work the deputies were undertaking entailed, but according to Clint McNear, a representative of the Texas Municipal Police Association, their union, they were in uniform at the time.
The shooting and the death of Mr Atkins come on the same day that President Joe Biden marked the 40th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the steps of the US Capitol, which honours fallen law enforcement personnel.
Acknowledging the shooting in his remarks, Mr Biden said: “We mourn the fallen. We pray for the recovery of the wounded.”