Report: Harris County DA ordered release of man two days ago.. who went on to murder a Houston police sergeant.

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The slain officer was identified as Sgt. Harold Preston, which he was reportedly due to retire later this very year.

The incident occurred during the morning hours of October 20th, when police were called to respond to an apartment located within the 2600 block of Holly Hall Street in Houston.

HPD Chief Art Acevedo said that the call was related to a report of domestic violence, which more specifically involved a woman trying to retrieve her belongings from the apartment where her husband, 51-year-old Elmer Manzano, had locked her out of.

When officers arrived on the scene, they spoke with the woman who was locked out of the apartment for approximately one hour before Manzano’s 14-year-old son, who was with the woman in the parking lot, managed to get the apartment door unlocked.

The teen boy saw that Manzano had a gun and went to alert officers – which then police say Manzano started firing his weapon from inside the apartment. The suspect’s son wound up getting shot in the arm, along with Sgt. Preston and Officer Courtney Waller both being shot in the process.

Officer Waller was shot in the arm and is expected to survive, but there’s no word yet on the teen’s specific condition.

However, Sgt. Preston was shot in the head and the shoulder and did not survive the ordeal.

Manzano proceeded to barricade himself inside of the apartment for roughly an hour after allegedly shooting his son and the officers, but eventually surrendered once SWAT was fully surrounded the building at approximately 10:26 a.m. that morning.

Chief Acevedo referred to the fallen officer as a hero when remarking on his decades of service to the HPD:

“I’m not calling him a hero because of the way he died today, but he is a hero. Because as good as he was as a cop, he was a better human being.”

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Houston Police actually had an interaction with the suspect just days before the fatal shooting on October 20th.

Police records indicate that authorities were contacted by Manzano’s wife on October 17th and October 18th related to domestic complaints/disturbances. It was on October 18th when Manzano and his wife were arguing over custody of the 14-year-old boy that officers responded in person over an alleged assault complaint.

When officers were interviewing Manzano over the alleged incident from the 18th, they’d found that Manzano had six bullets in his pocket – however, authorities did not locate any gun. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office was apparently willing to levy charges of terroristic threats if officers believed that some sort of assault occurred.

However, according to the police report on the matter, responding officers informed the DA’s office that they believed “no assault occurred,” which prosecutors returned a charge refusal slip that read “officer does not believe offense occurred”.

As to where exactly Manzano obtained the firearm allegedly used in the crime is unclear – or whether the firearm was even legal for him to possess at the time for that matter.

Records indicate the suspect does have some prior arrests and previous convictions but has avoided the criminal justice system for roughly 16 years up until now.

Back in October of 1994, Manzano was arrested for unlawfully carrying a firearm in Dallas County, but that charge was eventually dropped after a years’ worth of adjudication.

In August of 2000, Manzano was arrested for a simple assault and took a plea deal for one year of probation. He later wound up having that probation revoked and he spent 6 months in jail.

That probation revocation seems to be linked for a second assault that happened in December of 2000, which when pleading out on that charge Manzano took another years’ worth of probation.

He apparently had that probation revoked and spent six months in jail.

In May of 2001, Manzano was arrested for felony assault causing bodily injury to a family member, but after two years that charge was also dropped by Dallas County.

By December of 2002, Manzano had wound up pleading guilty to evading arrest by way of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

Come 2004, he had what would be his final brush with the courts prior to October of 2020 when a judge had issued a protective order against Manzano.

This is still a developing investigation.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today to stay updated as this case progresses.  Here’s our original report:

One officer murdered, second officer shot – here’s the latest on the attack

HOUSTON, TX – Officers responding to a disturbance call early Tuesday morning were greeted with gunfire. Two officers were shot at the scene and transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the medical district. 

Immediately following the shooting around 9:20 am, it was reported that the suspect was on the run. We can now confirm that the suspect is in custody and is and is also being transported to the hospital. 

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo had tweeted within minutes of the shooting. 

As the morning progressed, he tweeted updates. 

And as all of this is going on, a cash-in transit robbery suspect is barricaded in an apartment at another location. That individual threatened patrol officers with a shotgun. SWAT members not actively engaged in the other crime scene are handling that call. 

Local news station KHOU11 spoke with neighbors about what they saw and heard. 

Just prior to the 12:30 pm press conference, officers could be seen praying and hugging at the entrance to the hospital.

Report: Harris County DA ordered release of man two days ago.. who went on to murder a Houston police sergeant.
Screen shot of KHOU live feed

At that press conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner began by informing everyone that one of the officers has succumbed to his injuries. The other officer was shot in the arm and is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Sgt. Harold Preston gave his life to the City of Houston in the line of duty, having been with the HPD for 41 years.

Acevedo praised Sgt. Preston as a man who led from the front rather than from behind a desk reading a newspaper and drinking coffee.

He was struck more than once in the head, his wounds were not survivable. Acevedo stated that the trauma surgeon caring for Sgt. Preston was able to keep him alive long enough for his mother to get to the hospital to say goodbye. 

He leaves behind a fiancé and a 23-year-old daughter. 

The prayers of all of us at Law Enforcement Today goes out to his family and the others families involved today.  

The other officer wounded was Officer Courtney Waller. 

Chief Acevedo also stated that the suspects 14-year-old son was also in the arm during the exchange of gunfire between officers and Manzano. It is unknown who fired the shot that struck the young man. He is at Texas Children’s Hospital and is expected to recover fully. 

Acevedo then walked us through the timeline of what happened.

Three officers arrived in response to the disturbance. The complainant met the officers, needing their assistance for her to gather her belongings from the apartment, as she was leaving her estranged husband. 

As they were speaking, their son unlocked the door and saw his father with a gun, and immediately told officers what he saw. Manzano is alleged to have opened fire at that point. 

Sgt. Preston was right next to the door and was struck 3 times, twice in the head and once in the shoulder, with that bullet hitting his spine. 

Officer Waller was struck in the arm and was assisted by a neighbor that was washing his car. 

At 9:25 am, one of the officers on the scene put out an assist call. 

At 9:31, arriving officers were able to secure Sgt. Preston. At 9:32, Houston Fire ambulances arrived and transported the officers and the suspect’s son to the hospitals. 

Roughly an hour later, the suspect exited the apartment and surrendered to police. He was escorted to the hospital to be treated for his wounds. 

Acevedo also stated that it is unclear what charges Manzano will face, but assumes that one of them will be a murder charge. 

The suspect name is Elmer Manzano. He is a 51-year-old El Salvadorian with a history of domestic violence (according to Acevedo), was also shot in the abdomen and is being treated for his wounds. 

KPRC Houston reported: 

“According to state criminal records, Manzano was charged in 2002 with felony evading of police. Manzano pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 120 days in jail. Manzano did not serve his sentence in state prison which is normally the case according to defense attorney Shelby Burns. Questions over how Manzano may have had a firearm, considering his past, is a key question for investigators, Burns says. ‘There is a very narrow exception in Texas that allows for a convicted felon, after a five-year waiting period to possess a gun, but only when in the home they reside in.’ It is unclear whether Manzano had the gun legally or not.”

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HOUSTON, TX – An arson investigator for the Houston Fire Department was shot and killed as he was investigating a string of arsons.  It happened after he made contact with the suspect. 

Exactly what happened when the investigator caught up to the suspect is unknown, other than a shootout happened, leaving both the investigator and suspect dead.

The Houston Fire Department Investigator, Lemuel Bruce, is the first arson investigator in the history of the agency to be shot in the line of duty. 

Bruce was a married father of two, aged 8 and 12.  Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena, said that Bruce was a 17 year veteran of the agency.  Pena commented on the loss of Bruce and his family:

“Please keep them in your prayers.  It’s a tragic loss.  It’s senseless.  Senseless.”

The Mayor for the City of Houston, Sylvester Turner, spoke at a news conference outside of the hospital where Bruce was pronounced deceased at a news conference with Pena.  Tuner said:

“We send our condolences and prayers to investigator Bruce, and his wife and his two children.  We are uplifting him, and we are asking the City of Houston to do the same.”

The incident started off just after midnight on October 16th when Bruce and other members of the arson squad were conducting surveillance for the string of arsons they were working. 

Minutes before he caught up with the suspect, investigators heard that an SUV had been set on fire a few blocks from their location that was believed to have been involved.

Bruce reported that he saw a vehicle which matched the description of the suspect’s nearby.  It would appear that Bruce attempted to stop and make contact with the suspect, however, at this time in the investigation, it is unclear how contact was made.

Firefighters at a station close to the incident reported hearing gunshots and rushed to the location within a couple of minutes according to Pena.  Upon their arrival, they located Bruce who had been shot several times in his chest and head.

Another arson investigator located the suspect’s vehicle roughly a block away from the shooting scene.  The investigator located the suspect dead, it has not been reported if it was self-inflicted or otherwise.

According to ABC13, the suspect was identified as Joshua Delacerda by his mother.  Police did not confirm the name but did mention that he was a suspect in Bruce’s murder and in at least two arson cases that occurred prior to the shooting.

Bruce was rushed to the Memorial Hermann Hospital for medical treatment.  However, sadly, he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased before 5am.

When Bruce’s body was moved from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office, firefighters formed a wall of honor outside of the hospital as the ambulance left with his body. 

The Houston Fire Department advised that Bruce had become an arson investigator after serving 12 years as a firefighter.  Houston Fire Department released the following:

“Please keep the family, friends and members of the HFD Arson Bureau in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, also released a statement regarding the loss of Bruce.  He said:

“Early this morning, a brave first responder with the Houston Fire Department was gunned down in the line of duty.  Please join Jan and me in praying for his family, including his wife and two children, his friends, and the Houston Fire Department.

“As Texans, we know that law enforcement puts their lives on the line every day to keep our families and our communities safe.  It is important than ever that they have our support.”

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