HOUSTON — The Houston police sergeant killed in a shooting on Tuesday has been praised by the estranged wife of the man accused of murdering him for protecting her and her son after he responded to a domestic violence call, according to a report.
Houston police Sgt. Harold Preston, 65, was shot multiple times at an apartment complex, and 51-year-old Elmer Manzano, who authorities have confirmed is an illegal immigrant, was arrested. Preston was a 41-year veteran of the police department.
“I pray that he rests in heaven, because if it were not for him, I know I would have been killed,” the estranged wife, who was unnamed, said in a statement obtained by KHOU-TV. “He saved my life. He is a hero. He died protecting me and my family.”
Preston and Officer Courtney Waller responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex after the estranged wife of Manzano said she was moving out and wanted to get some things from inside, Law Officer reported.
“I pray that he rests in heaven, because if it were not for him, I know I would have been killed. … He saved my life. He is a hero. He died protecting me and my family.”
– Unnamed estranged wife of Elmer Manzano
The officers spoke with the woman and her 14-year-old son in a parking lot for about an hour before the boy unlocked the apartment door and alerted officers that his father had a gun.
Manzano then opened fire, according to accounts of the crime, striking the officers and his son, Fox reported. Waller and the boy are expected to recover.
Manzano surrendered to authorities after briefly barricading himself inside the apartment. He was shot in the abdomen and taken to a hospital where he is expected to recover.
As a result, Manzano faces capital murder and attempted capital murder charges in the death Preston and the shooting of Waller, respectively. He also is charged with aggravated assault.
Consequently, Manzano could face the death penalty, according to prosecutors.
The estranged wife also offered condolences to Preston’s family and urged victims of domestic violence to not be intimidated by their abusers and call police for help, KHOU-TV reported.
“To women who are experiencing domestic violence, don’t let the abuser intimidate you. Call the police and seek help,” she said. “My kids were in danger, so I called for help. And I want to thank everyone for their prayers as our family begins to recuperate and begins to heal. I want to say thank you for the outpouring of support for my son and I.”
Continuing, “I also want to thank the officers of the Houston Police Department, especially the officers who came to help me,” she said. “To the family of Sgt. Preston, I want to offer my sincerest condolences. He helped me a lot. He was very kind.”
If you would like to get a card to the family of @houstonpolice Sgt. Harold Preston or to Officer Courtney Waller, you can leave it on this HPD unit outside the SW patrol station or you can drop off at @HPOUTX where officers will personally deliver your note. #khou11 pic.twitter.com/tJqmixTU0V
— Melissa Correa (@KHOUmelissa) October 21, 2020
Sgt. DeAndre’ Hutchinson, the President of the African American Police Officers League, is helping comfort Preston’s family.
“Definitely a giant of a human being. A trailblazer,” Hutchinson said of the veteran officer who joined HPD in 1979. “He saw it all. He saw when African-Americans weren’t even allowed to promote at the police department.”
Preston leaves behind a 23-year old daughter, his fiancé and his elderly parents.
“I love this family. They are resilient,” Hutchinson said. “Their faith is going to get them through this.”