LEVELLAND, Texas — Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was killed and four additional officers were wounded Thursday afternoon during a gun battle and hours-long standoff in the small Texas town of Levelland, which is about 30 miles west of Lubbock, Law Officer reported. Now a suspect is in custody, authorities said.
Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, was identified as the suspect. He was eventually taken into custody late Thursday night and transported to the hospital with unspecified injuries, according to NBCDFW.
Soto-Chavira bonded out of jail just four days ago after being accused of assaulting family members, KAMC-TV of Lubbock, reported.
Chavira had bonded out of jail four days ago after being charged with assaulting family members. pic.twitter.com/YrEfDEQiB4
— Bryan Mudd (@BryanMuddKAMC) July 16, 2021
The standoff between the suspect and law enforcement had begun at the home around 1 p.m. after someone reported a man as possibly armed along the residential street in Levelland. The confrontation escalated quickly, gunfire erupted as the suspect barricaded himself inside a house, and a standoff ensued.
Backup was called from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office tactical squad and the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office. “It wasn’t long thereafter that we had additional shots fired, and we had officers that were injured,” Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia said.
Media outlets at the scene reported gunfire was ongoing throughout the standoff, and nearby residents were urged to leave their homes. Some who declined to leave were advised to stay at the rear of their houses and stay low, Garcia said.
Sgt. Bartlett was taken to Covenant Health Levelland hospital and died of his wounds, according to a sheriff’s office statement. Bartlett was the commander of the sheriff’s tactical unit.
Sgt. Shawn Wilson of the Levelland Police Department was in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center in Lubbock after surgery, said Chief Garcia. The other three officers were treated for minor injuries and had been discharged from the hospital, he said.
SWAT Team Commander Sgt. Bartlett was a nine-year veteran of the department who had served overseas in the U.S. Army, NBCDFW reported.
“Josh was a true servant,” Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said. “He personified the true professional in law enforcement, especially here in Texas law enforcement.”
Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres had said the suspect had a history of contact with police, but specific details were not provided.
Police, deputies and other emergency crews from throughout the region responded to the incident, along with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal agencies, Garcia said. The Rangers would lead the investigation after the standoff concluded.
Levelland is the Hockley County seat and a local oil, cotton and cattle center that is home to about 13,500 residents.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was among a long list of people expressing condolences after learning about Bartlett’s death, Fox News reported.
Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lubbock County Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Bartlett.
Please join Heidi & me in lifting up Sgt. Bartlett and his family in prayer.
And please continue to pray for the brave officers injured in the line of duty today. https://t.co/1HuSTGQ8SN
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) July 16, 2021