West Texas deputy killed in SWAT standoff, others wounded
LEVELLAND, Texas (KCBD/Gray News) - A Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Commander was killed and four other officers were injured in a deadly SWAT standoff in Levelland.
Law enforcement secured the area around 2 p.m. Thursday, and worked to push back the perimeter as the subject, later identified by law enforcement as 22-year-old Omar Soto-Chavira, fired shots “in all directions” from inside.
Lubbock County Sheriff’s SWAT leader Sgt. Joshua Bartlett was fatally struck and died from his injuries after being taken to the hospital.
Residents were advised to stay away as stray bullets continued to be a concern late into Thursday night. Rumors and misinformation from social media spread quickly as Lubbock and Hockley County authorities tried to determine if Soto-Chavira was alone in the home; meanwhile, shots continued to be fired at officers and deputies.
Concluding an almost 11-hour standoff with law enforcement, including ATF and FBI, authorities cut the power to the city block after sundown. Robots from Lubbock County SWAT and the Lubbock Police Department were used to locate Soto-Chavira alone in the bathroom of the home.
According to Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe, chemical agents were deployed, forcing Soto-Chavira out of the bathroom to a portion of the home that had been previously “opened up” by law enforcement.
Soto-Chavira then surrendered to officers around 11:30 p.m. He was taken to Lubbock to be treated for his injuries.
Three responding officers were treated for their injuries and released. Sgt. Shawn Wilson with Levelland Police was taken into immediate surgery, in stable but critical condition as of 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia said the situation started Thursday morning around 11:17 a.m., with a Texas Highway Patrol traffic contact for reckless driving. The patrolman said a driver was “trying to bait him into a confrontation.”
Highway Patrol identified a white Chevrolet pickup heading back to Levelland, but they were unable to locate the vehicle at that time.
At 1:12 p.m., Levelland police got a call from a concerned citizen in the 1300 block of Kent, saying their neighbor was acting strangely, walking around with a large gun.
When officers arrived on scene, they identified the Chevy pickup and brought in negotiators.
Garcia said Soto-Chavira was very hostile and shortly began firing out the door at Levelland police officers. Officers returned fire but they do not believe they struck Soto-Chavira at that time.
Levelland PD called in the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office and the Lubbock County SWAT team. At that point, additional shots were fired, injuring officers.
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