Burglary suspect hits police officer with car, pins him then drags him before suspect shot


MCALLEN, TX –A McAllen police officer was struck, pinned, and then dragged by a suspect wanted for a burglary.  As the plain-clothed detective was being injured, another officer opened fire, stopping the suspect.

McAllen Police advise that Officers Jose Garcia and Danny Leal were attempting to arrest Hector Garza who was wanted on an open burglary charge.  McAllen Police said in a statement:

“Responding Officers observed the suspect [Garza] in a car wash stall at Cage Rd. and Hall Acres in South Pharr.  Responding Officers, in two units, approached the suspect while in the car stall.

“The responding Officer at the driver side of the suspect vehicle reached inside the vehicle door to arrest the suspect, as he did, the suspect drove in reverse and then forward at high speed.  While in reverse motion, the suspect pinned the arresting Officer with the vehicle door and car wash stall.

“The suspect dragged the arresting Officer and upon driving forward charged at the Officer at the front of the suspect vehicle.” 

This action, coupled with the fact that Garza was in the process of seriously injuring Garcia, seemingly gave Leal a well-founded fear that Garza was threatening each officer’s lives, which caused Leal to open fire.  McAllen Police said:

“The Officer at the front of the suspect vehicle [Leal] discharged his duty weapon at the suspect.  The suspect nonetheless fled the scene but drove into a wooded area directly east of the car wash.  The suspect was later located and arrested at adjacent retail establishment by Pharr Police Officers.” 

 Pharr Police advised that they were able to capture Garza after a brief foot pursuit behind a Dollar General.  He is said to have received non-life-threatening wounds to his shoulder area as a result of the police involved shooting.

Garcia was arrested for the open burglary warrant and additionally charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer.  More criminal charges are possible as he ran from the scene.

McAllen Police advise that the injured officer, Garcia, sustained injuries to his left hand, should and arm from the attack.  The injuries are noted as severe according to McAllen Police.  They said:

“Officer Garcia was transported to a local hospital for emergency medical care.  The responding Officer that discharged his duty weapon at the suspect is Officer Leal.”

Pharr Police Sergeant Michael Mendoza spoke of the police involved shooting that occurred in their city.  He said:

“[McAllen Police] officers identified the suspect [Garza] at 2600 S Cage and made contact.  While making contact with the suspect, the suspect fled in his vehicle, striking the plain clothes officer.  A second plain clothes officer then fired multiple times at the suspect vehicle striking the suspect at least once.

“No bystanders were injured during this incident.  Both the suspect and a plain clothes investigator were transported to local hospitals for treatment.”

Leal will be suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation which is normal procedure.  The shooting investigation will be reviewed to determine if it was justified, and when/if that ruling comes down, Leal will be reinstated. 

This situation goes to echo the sentiment that Law Enforcement Today has said repeatedly, there is no such thing as ‘routine’ in law enforcement.  As we have said numerous times, one of the first things that recruits in the police academy and in field training are taught, there is no such thing as routine.

Any situation, like this one, which should have been a simple arrest for a burglary suspect, something that in all appearances was a non-violent crime, ended with an officer who may lose his career over the injuries he sustained.  It is doubtful that either of those officers believed that Garza would do what he did and allegedly endanger their lives. 

Also on Thursday, a deputy was shot and killed in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Deputy Ryan Hendrix, who had been fighting for his life for several hours, died after being shot in the face early Thursday morning by a reoccurring criminal.

At 2:50 a.m. on Thursday September 10th, a couple called police to report an attempted car break in, after witnessing a man using a crowbar to enter a vehicle on Bethea Drive near Hendersonville. 

While waiting for police, the homeowner grabbed his own firearm and headed outside to confront the car thief. The two men exchanged gunfire before the homeowner retreated back into his house. 

When police arrived, they found the suspect sitting in a pickup truck across the street from the residence of the original call. 

Jeremy Troy, a nearby witness told WYFF4 News he was working late at CarSmart Direct when he heard a single gunshot at around 3 a.m. Thursday.

Troy claims he heard a series of shots from different caliber guns being fired close by. According to Troy, about 45 minutes later, deputies arrived, sped down Piney Ridge Drive and blocked off the no-outlet neighborhood. He then said he heard more gunfire. 

Troy said:

“Shortly there after that, One of the squad cars came – and he was driving very erratically,”

He continued:

“He kind of ran over the grass here and he pulled off just 100 yards from here across the road and the officer said, ‘I need help,’ the officer screamed, ‘I need help’.”

According to WYFF4, Troy said he ran into his office to grab keys to a car so he could transport the injured deputy to safety, but when he got back to the side of the highway, EMS and a fire truck were assisting the deputy.

He said:

“I got out of the way…within 5 minutes, there must have been 100 cops here. It was…it was crazy,” 

In a press conference, Sheriff Lowell Griffin said that the suspect, now identified as Robert Ray Doss Jr. initially complied with deputies’ commands to put his hands up, but then quickly grabbed his gun and shot Deputy Ryan Hendrix in the face.

Two other deputies returned fire and pulled Hendrix to safety until other officers arrived at the scene. SWAT was then called to the scene to take control, and Doss was killed in the exchange of gunfire. 

Hendrix was rushed to Mission Hospital in critical condition, where he fought for several hours, but ultimately died from his injuries this evening. 

Griffin described Doss as a career criminal who was currently wanted with SC DPPP for a parole violation. He has a lengthy record with arrests in South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland.

Hendrix, a former Marine, has served as a sheriffs deputy for the past eight years. He leaves behind two young children. 

Law Enforcement Today wishes to extend our condolences for the fallen officer and his family at this difficult time.

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Earlier this week an officer was ambushed and killed in the line of duty in Ohio. 

CLEVELAND, OH –Law Enforcement Today reported earlier regarding the death of Cleveland Police Department Detective who has now been identified as James Skernivitz.  We have learned he was shot and killed while working an undercover drug operation.

Skernivitz was a twenty five year veteran of the Cleveland Police Department who was pronounced deceased at 10:30pm on September 3rd.  The preliminary cause of death is listed as gunshot wound which injured his heart and lungs, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner. 

Skernivitz had been sworn into a federal task force, Operation Legend, on September 2nd.  US Attorney General William Barr released a statement regarding the death of Skernivitz:

“Today is a very sad day for the city of Cleveland and the entire law enforcement community. Overnight, Cleveland Division of Police Detective James Skernivitz was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Detective Skernivitz was a 22-year veteran of the Cleveland Division of Police and a sworn Operation Legend task force officer assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crimes Task Force.

“Two weeks ago, I had the honor of visiting the unit where Detective Skernivitz was assigned. I was briefed on the critical work that he and his colleagues do to keep our streets safe from violent crime. Detective Skernivitz selflessly gave his life in this cause.

“It takes a special kind of courage to be a police officer. Our men and women in blue put their lives on the line day after day in order to keep us safe. We will not forget Detective Skernivitz and his life of service and sacrifice. I send my heartfelt condolences to his wife, children, and family.”

Police are not releasing much information regarding the murder of Skernivitz, other than he was in his police vehicle with a man named Scott Dingess.  There has been no information released as to why the two were together other than to say the two were ambushed in Skernivitz’s vehicle.

Dingess, who was out on bond at the time of the murder, had a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2009.  Most of the cases seemed to involved drug and theft charges.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said:

“Cleveland lost one of its finest tonight in the line of duty.  We still have an ongoing investigation…We definitely need the prayers of the people in this city.  This officer was out doing what all police officers do, trying protecting the people of this city and he gave his life.  So, we ask that you give his family a little room.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine added:

“Grand and I are heartbroken to learn of the shooting death of Det. James Skernivitz.  We offer our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues. 

In honor of his life, I’ve ordered flags lowered on state buildings and grounds in Cuyahoga County and Columbus.

Dave Yost, the Attorney General for the State of Ohio said:

“Detective Skernivitz gave his life trying to keep danger off the streets of Cleveland. This tragedy shows once again the valor and honor of the police — and that there are yet dangerous, evil men in the world who must be brought to justice.

My heart breaks for his family and I pray that in their grief, they find solace in his legacy of service and sacrifice.”

Armond Budish, the Cuyahoga County Executive said:

“My heart goes out to the family, friends and fellow police officers who knew Detective James Skernivitz. Detective Skernivitz served 28 years on the Cleveland Police Force—as an undercover officer he was on the front lines of important work against gangs.

Last night he was shot down. Police officers throughout the country put their lives on the line every day to protect us from crime and danger.

That statement should not be a flashpoint or controversial—unfortunately, these days it is. I am grateful for Detective Skernivitz’s service and I pray for his family. May he rest in peace.”

Michael Polensk, the Ward 8 Cleveland City Council Member and Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee gave his thoughts:

“On behalf of the residents of the City of Cleveland, and the residents of the Greater Collinwood community, I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of veteran Detective James Skernivitz, who was brutally murdered in the line of duty last evening, September 3, 2020.

This should reinforce to all citizens, more than ever before, our collective need to support our men and women in blue, who are being vilified nationally, while at the same time, working tirelessly to safeguard our streets, our families and our businesses.

We all hope and pray that the perpetrator(s) of this violent act are apprehended and brought to justice as soon as possible. The men and women of the Cleveland Police Department are the “the thin blue line” that protect us daily. Let us never forget that. May the good Lord welcome him to paradise.

God bless his family, his brothers and sisters in the Cleveland Police Department and the City of Cleveland. God bless America.”

Cleveland Police announced that three people have been taken into custody on warrants unrelated to the shooting.  There has been no information released as to how they may be involved in this shooting.

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