Officers down: SWAT leader murdered, multiple officers wounded by barricaded gunman

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LEVELLAND, TX – In what has been a deadly first two weeks of July for law enforcement, one officer has died and four others were wounded on Thursday when a barricaded man open fired on officers from multiple agencies.

Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Commander, Sgt. Josh Bartlett was transported from the scene to Covenant Medical Center in Levelland, where he was pronounced dead from his gunshot wounds.  S

gt. Bartlett, who had been with the LSO for 9 years and was an Army veteran, leaves behind a wife and three children. 

Levelland Police Sgt. Shawn Wilson is also hospitalized in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center in Lubbock, where he underwent surgery for his injuries. One other was reportedly in critical condition, while two others were treated for their wounds and were slated for release. 

According to a media release from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office:

“The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of our own, tonight, SWAT Commander Sergeant  Josh Bartlett. The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team responded to the 1100 block of 10th Street in Levelland at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, July 15th to assist the Levelland Police Department for reports of a barricaded subject with reports of shots fired. 

Shortly after arrival, gunfire was exchanged and Sgt. Bartlett was shot…”

According to Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres, the suspect is known to his office, but he declined to identify the man as he chose instead to discuss Sgt. Bartlett. 

“Josh was a true servant,” Scifres said. “He personified the true professional in law enforcement, especially here in Texas law enforcement.”

CBS 11 in Dallas reports

“It was not immediately clear what prompted the man to open fire or to barricade himself in the house. However, the standoff capped a string of events that began at 11:17 a.m. Thursday as a state trooper was conducting a traffic stop, (Levelland Police Chief Albert) Garcia said.

‘During that traffic contact, he had a separate individual that was driving recklessly, and as he reported to us, appeared to be trying to bait him into some type of confrontation,’ Garcia said.”

Nearly two hours later, Levelland Police received reports of a man acting strange and walking around with what appeared to be a gun. 

Officers at the scene identified a vehicle matching the description of the one provided by the trooper from earlier in the day. 

Members of Levelland Police, Hockley County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lubbock Police, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and ATF responded to the scene. 

The suspect was taken into custody just before midnight on Thursday, after nearly 11 hours. 

KCBD 11 reports that the suspect has been identified as 22-year old Omar Soto-Chavira.

He has been transported to a hospital in Lubbock to be treated for injuries after officers used robots to end the standoff. The Texas Rangers, part of the Department of Public Safety, are taking over the investigation.

Authorities believe that the suspect could eventually be charged with capital murder and attempted capital murder, among other charges.

Members of the community issued statements of condolences to both the Bartlett family and the law enforcement community. 

Lubbock mayor Dan Pope: 

“The Lubbock Police Department SWAT Team and negotiators remain engaged with local and state authorities in the ongoing situation in Levelland.

This senseless killing serves as a stark reminder of the danger our first responders face everyday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bartlett family and the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department family.”

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish:

“Today, Brenda and I join Lubbock County citizens in mourning the loss of Lubbock County Sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Josh Bartlett, who was shot and killed in the line of duty today.

It is with heavy hearts that we send our deepest sympathies to the Sgt’s family, friends, and his brothers and sisters in law enforcement. This terrible loss is a solemn reminder of the risks our brave law enforcement officers face while protecting our communities.

I ask all Lubbock County citizens to join us in praying for his family, for healing for the other officers who were injured in the standoff, and for the entire Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department. As a mark of respect, it is fitting that flags at all Lubbock County buildings be lowered to half-staff in his honor and memory.” 

But it was not just members of the local community, as law enforcement agencies from across Texas and the nation posted. 

As part of a further outpouring of support, the athletic department at Texas Tech University in Lubbock posted to their social media. 

Sadly, there are those in our nation who either simply turn a blind eye or respond with glee when an officer lays down their life. 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz posted regarding Sgt. Bartlett’s murder. 

The anti-cop, anti-gun crowd went to work. 

“Let’s give Texans easier access to military grade weapons, right Ted?”, wrote @dattwell1. 

@Blacksmitheart responded, “So a highly trained good guy with a gun…”

Or this:

Erik Nielsen felt it was a celebratory occasion. 

Another looked at the death of Sgt. Bartlett as a reason to dance. 

We here at Law Enforcement Today speak on behalf of the many millions of Americans that support and love our law enforcement community. 

Sgt. Bartlett’s family and the Lubbock area law enforcement community have our prayers, our sympathy and our support. 

And finally, our prayers are with the other officers wounded, and we hope they have a full and speedy recovery. 

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further details on this developing case.

A run honoring Sgt. Bartlett has been scheduled for 7 p.m Friday evening. 

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Louisiana police officer – a father and a husband – murdered while responding to disturbance call

DOYLINE, LA – A Doyline Police officer was said to have been fatally shot while assisting other officers in a response to a “disturbance call” earlier in July, according to reports.

The suspected shooter, who has not yet been identified by authorities, was said to have been shot during the incident and was later taken into custody and is in “serious condition”, officials say.

According to the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, Doyline Police Officer William Earl Collins Jr. was shot and killed at approximately 8:00 p.m. on July 9th when responding to a disturbance call.

Officer Collins, who also served as a Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputy, was said to have been fired upon while arriving at the scene of the disturbance call. Authorities have not released details as of this writing as to the nature of the disturbance police responded to that evening.

A statement released by the Louisiana State Police, who are investigating the incident, simply noted that the disturbance call first came in at approximately 5:45 p.m. on July 9th and that Officer Collins and two WPSO deputies came under fire shortly after responding:

“A Doyline Police Officer and two WPSO Deputies responded to the residence, located on Green Tree Street.  Upon arrival, the Officer and Deputies immediately began to take gunfire from the suspect.  Gunfire was then exchanged and the Doyline Police Officer was shot.”

The shooting suspect was said to have barricaded themselves inside of a residence for several hours after fatally shooting Officer Collins. Local reports noted that two loud bangs were heard before the yet-to-be named suspect was apprehended.

A statement the Louisiana State Police also noted that the suspect “incurred a gunshot wound” prior to being taken into custody:

“After several hours of repeated attempts to peacefully rectify the situation, law enforcement officers entered the residence.”

“It was then discovered that the suspect had incurred a gunshot wound. Life-saving measures were started and medical personnel transported him to a local hospital where he remains in serious condition.”

The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office shared a post on Facebook extending condolences for the passing of Officer Collins, referring to the fallen officer’s role as a deputy with the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office:

“Our hearts are heavy this morning as learn of the passing of Deputy William Collins, Jr., who was killed in the line of duty.” 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Doyline Police Department, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Collins family. Please continue to pray for our law enforcement officers as they continue to serve our community. Prayers to all of you.”

The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further details on this developing case.

In Indiana, as FBI Task Force officer who also was a 30-year police veteran with the Terre Haute Police Department was fatally shot while walking outside of an FBI building earlier in July. 

We at Law Enforcement Today reported on the fatal shooting as news was first breaking. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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TERRE HAUTE, IN – An FBI Task Force officer, who was also a 30-year local police department veteran, was “ambushed and fatally shot” in the line of duty, according to officials, right outside of an FBI building.

The slain officer was identified as FBI Task Force Officer Greg Ferency, who had served on the task force since 2010 and also served 30 years with the Terre Haute Police Department, most recently serving as a detective for the department.

According to officials, Officer Ferency was outside of the FBI Indianapolis Resident Agency in Terre Haute when he was ambushed by a yet-to-be-named gunman at approximately 2:15 p.m. on July 7th.

The unnamed gunman was said to have been outside of the building and fired upon Officer Ferency as he was walking out of the FBI building.

Officials say that another FBI agent was inside of the building during the incident and heard the gunfire. The unidentified agent was said to have run outside and opened fire on the assailant, striking him.

Apparently, the alleged gunman had fled the area after the shooting and drove himself to Terre Haute Regional Hospital, where he was said to have undergone surgery and was later placed into custody after his arrival at the hospital.

Details regarding the incident are limited, as authorities are still investigating the matter. A search warrant was reportedly conducted at the suspect’s home, but authorities have not revealed what sort of evidence was obtained through the search warrant.

FBI Indianapolis Special Agent Paul Keenan during his statement on the incident extended condolences to the fallen officer’s loved ones:

“We want to extend our deepest sympathy to TFO Ferency’s family, friends and fellow officers.”

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb took to Twitter to comment on Officer Ferency’s killing, writing the following:

“The tragic events that unfolded today are senseless. Our heart breaks for Detective Greg Ferency’s family, loved ones and those who served with him every day protecting the residents of the Wabash Valley.”

“Janet and I are thinking of the Terre Haute Police Department, the community and Detective Ferency’s family as I know they will be steadfast in honoring his life, service and dedication to the residents of Vigo County.”

Senator Mike Braun also shared condolences for the fallen officer on Twitter, writing the following:

“Terre Haute PD Officer Greg Ferency was killed today in the line of duty doing what he has done for 30 years: selflessly protecting and serving his community. Please keep his family and fellow officers in your prayers, and all those who wear the badge.”

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch released a statement on the passing of the 30-year law enforcement veteran, commending his service to the community and collaboration with federal authorities during his career:

“Detective Ferency was an honorable servant, who kept drugs off our streets and partnered with federal authorities to defend Hoosiers and his community. I am keeping Ferency’s family and those who worked side by side with him during his 30 years of service in my thoughts as we come together to honor his commitment to making Indiana a safer place.”

FBI Indianapolis Special Agent Keenan is aware that there are “going to be a lot of questions” regarding this critical incident, but asks that people remain patient as the investigation is conducted:

“There are going to be a lot of questions, as there should be, please don’t speculate on what those answers might be and understand that there could be information out there that’s not completely accurate.”

This is a ongoing investigation.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further details on this developing case.

 

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