Two emergency responders were killed, and another was injured as they worked the scene of a crash in icy conditions Saturday morning on the north-side of Lubbock, Texas.
One Lubbock police officer and firefighter died, and another firefighter was critically injured when another vehicle crossed a median and crashed into them as they worked a wreck about 8:30 a.m. on North Interstate 27 near FM 1294, said Lubbock police public information officer Allison Matherly.
The officer who died was identified as 27-year-old Officer Nicholas Reyna, while the firefighter who died was 39-year-old Lt./Paramedic Eric Hill. The critically injured firefighter is 30-year-old Matt Dawson, who remained hospitalized Saturday afternoon.
Hill had been with the LFD for 10 years, while Reyna had only been with the LPD for one.
Police Chief Floyd Mitchell and Lubbock Fire Rescue Chief Shaun Fogerson hosted a brief news conference later in the morning, going over the timeline of events and calling it a tragic day for Lubbock law enforcement and firefighters.
“The people who put on this badge (police), the people who put on that badge (fire), they give their life to their communities. We are true servants. To my family here in Lubbock, my police department and fire department family, our hearts go out to them,” Chief Mitchell said.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a brief statement via Twitter in response to the loss of the first responders.
“Terrible news in Lubbock this morning. We have lost 2 brave first responders,” reads the statement. “As we await more news, please join Jan and I in praying for the Lubbock community and the families of these heroes.”
Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope and the City Council released a statement Saturday afternoon:
“Today our city grieves and expresses prayers for the loss of the two first responders who lost their lives today in the line of duty and to the injured fire fighter. This is a tragic event. Our hearts go out to the families and likewise to the brave men and women who serve in Lubbock Fire Rescue and in the Lubbock Police Department. Public service is a high calling, and we are indebted to those who serve and protect our lives and safety each and every day. I ask you to offer your prayers and comforting thoughts in light of today’s tragic events.”
Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson also released a statement, calling Saturday a devastating day for the city, LPD and LFR.
“Our public safety employees work day and night to protect us and are often required to place themselves in harm’s way. Today, we lost two of these heroes and a third is critically injured. We grieve with the families and loved ones of the police officer and fire fighter that were killed in the line of duty today. We also offer our support, assistance and prayers for our injured fire fighter, his family and loved ones. Please join us in supporting our police, fire and City families during this trying time.”
“This is a tragic day for our family. This is a tragic day for both police and fire and the men and women of both of our departments,” Chief Mitchell said. “When road conditions get this bad, we need to make sure that people understand that they need to slow down. They need to understand the road conditions are dangerous and we have people out there trying to protect them. Speed and road conditions are always a factor.”
Chris Kemp, president of the Lubbock Professional Fire Fighters Association, said updated information on Dawson’s condition will be updated throughout the day. The association will also update the public on Hill’s memorial service.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
Both departments will have counselors available for the other first responders on the scene and for those who knew the officer and firefighter.
Flags at both department headquarters have been placed at half-staff.
Meanwhile, earlier this week a retired police sergeant was killed while trying to intervene in an armed robbery.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook to extend their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
According to the GCSO, retired Gwinnett County Sergeant Felix Cosme was shot and killed during an an attempted robbery at an auto parts store on Hamilton Mill in Buford.
Reports confirmed that the store that was being robbed was where Cosme was employed. Police say that during the attempted theft, Cosme jumped in to protect his fellow co-workers from being harmed.
“Sergeant Cosme died a hero’s death as he attempted to protect himself and a female co-worker from a violent criminal with no regard for human life. His next of kin was notified on scene last night,” the Sheriff’s Office reported.
According to AJC.com, Cosme was attempting to draw his own sidearm when he was fatally shot.
Investigators say the perpetrator had parked his vehicle in the lot and watched as the female employee helped another customer outside of the store. As that customer left, the suspect then followed the employee back into the store and demanded the cash inside.
“Once they got back inside, the suspect asked her to open the cash drawer,” police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said in a news release.
We mourn this loss. Keeping the Cosme family in our thoughts & prayers. Rest In Peace. https://t.co/j92VtCkVDY
— GA Bureau of Invest (@GBI_GA) January 9, 2020
Cosme was in the back and reportedly heard the commotion. He came out with his weapon drawn but was shot in the process.
“The male employee attempted to pull his weapon when he was shot by the suspect,” she said. “The victim died at the scene.”
Authorities say that the suspect who is wanted in the fatal shooting is still on the run, and police are looking for any information that could lead to their capture.
They were last seen headed toward I-85, according to reports.
“We do have that female employee, who we hope is a good witness,” Pihera said in an interview with Channel 2 Action News. “Next we will see if they had surveillance cameras and if they were working properly to give us a good description.”
If anyone has any information to share in this case, please contact GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300. To remain anonymous, tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or visit www.stopcrimeATL.com.
Crime Stoppers tipsters can receive a cash reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case. Case Number: 20-002382
The suspect was only described as a black male.
— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) January 9, 2020
Sergeant Cosme was employed by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office starting in April 2006 and served in Jail Administration until his retirement in November 2015, according to the Facebook post.
“Please keep Sergeant Cosme’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers,” the GCSO wrote.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!