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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A police officer was shot and killed early Friday at a Walmart in Central Texas, and a suspect has been charged with capital murder, officials said.
Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron was shot in the neck and died at the scene, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said, adding that Padron left behind two daughters, ages 10 and six.
Padron was responding to a call about a drunk man inside the store around 2:30 a.m., Acevedo said. The suspect attacked the officer as soon as he arrived at the store and Padron didn't have a chance to even pull out his own weapon.
"The suspect produced a semi-automatic pistol and shot the officer at point blank range," Acevedo said. The wounded officer was able to call for help using his police radio, he added.
"This was a routine call," Acevedo said. "What makes our job deadly is that there is no routine call."
Two Walmart employees tackled and held the suspect and locked down the store until another police officer arrived to arrest him.
Brandon Montgomery Daniel, 24, was later booked into the Travis County jail on capital murder charges in connection with the shooting, according to jail records. Authorities did not provide any further information.
If convicted of capital murder, Daniel could face the death penalty.
Acevedo praised the actions of the Walmart employees, saying they did all they were supposed to do. He said store video captured the entire incident.
"I am heartened that two brave souls took action. They tackled the suspect when they saw the officer was shot unprovoked," Acevedo said. Once the suspect was handcuffed, another officer gave Padron CPR and medics tried to revive him. They pronounced the officer dead at 2:44 a.m.
Acevedo said Padron worked at the department for more than three years and had previously worked for the Austin airport police and the San Angelo police department.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Dianna Gee expressed sympathy for the officer's family and colleagues, and said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is proud of staff at the store.
"The associates displayed courage under these extreme circumstances," Gee said. She declined to provide more details about the shooting, referring questions to the police.
Austin city manager Marc Ott lamented the officer's death.
"It is a sad day for the city of Austin to lose a member of our family," Ott said.
Pedro Garcia and his roommate, Sapna Sharma, who live in the suburb of Pflugerville, told the Austin American-Statesman they were grocery shopping at the back of the store when they heard gunfire.
"I felt like something fell really hard," Sharma said.
They said an employee told them there had been a shooting and that more than a dozen officers swarmed into the store.
Associated Press writer Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.