Two major arrests in the past 24 hours… one in the murder of an officer and another of a suspected “serial gunman”.
First – police have arrested 47-year-old Robert Solis in the murder of Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of law enforcement, was one of the first sheriff’s deputies in America to wear a traditional Sikh turban on duty.
He was fatally shot from behind Friday while conducting a traffic stop in the Houston area. Police say the deputy was shot multiple times by one of two people in the stopped car.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez spoke about the murder to reporters:
“He wore the turban. He represented his community with integrity, respect and pride,” Gonzalez said. “And again, he was respected by all.”
Police said the 41-year-old deputy was returning to his patrol car around 1 p.m. That’s when they say a man got out of the stopped car with a pistol and shot him “in a coldblooded manner, ambush-style,” Gonzalez said.
Police say they don’t know the reason for the stop or the motive behind the murder. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead around 4 p.m.
Solis is now was charged with capital murder in connection with the killing. Police say there was an active parole-violation warrant for him that stems back to a January 2017 case in which he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Also in custody is a woman who police say was a passenger in the stopped car.
Officers said the gun used to assassinate the deputy was confiscated.
Prior to joining the sheriff’s department, Dhaliwal, whom his colleagues described as a “trailblazer,” owned a lucrative trucking business.
He said he wanted to become an officer to build a bridge between the department and the Houston area’s large Sikh community because of a prior “mishap”.
Dhaliwal was a husband and a father of three children. He worked his way up after starting with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer.
Community-led candlelight vigil was held tonight in honor of @HCSO_D5Patrol Deputy Dhaliwal. Please continue to keep his family & his @HCSOTexas family in your thoughts & prayers. Deputy Dhaliwal was LOVED by this community. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/oD7M78RXxm
— Major Mike Lee (@HCSOPatrol) September 28, 2019
He was also was the first adherent of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in India, to become a deputy.
In 2015, it was announced by the Harris County sheriff that Dhaliwal would be allowed to wear his religion’s beard and turban while on patrol.
Back then, only police departments in the District of Columbia and Riverside, Calif., had allowed it.
“He died a hero,” Gonzalez said. “He died serving the Harris County community.”
Our Harris County community loves their law enforcement officers. Not surprised to learn that a community-led vigil is being organized this evening to pay respects to Deputy Dhaliwal. He’s an incredible loss not only to our @HCSOTexas family but to the entire community. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/V4fdgHOkmK
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) September 28, 2019
Sheriff’s Office Maj. Mike Lee watched the dashboard-camera video of Dhaliwal’s traffic stop. He told media outlets the driver-side door of the suspect’s car was open for about two minutes while Dhaliwal talked with him and that the conversation did not appear combative.
He said that shortly after, Dhaliwal then shut the car door and began to walk back to his patrol car – it was only about three seconds later that he said Solis opened the door, got out with a gun in his hand and ran toward Dhaliwal… then shooting him in the back of the head.
According to a neighbor, they heard two gunshots then saw the shooter run away and leave in a “getaway car”. Police didn’t specify if the car was the stopped vehicle or a different one, but police say the suspect was found inside a business about a quarter-mile from the shooting scene.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he stands behind the family and the community.
“He represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good,” Turner wrote. “Evil you do not win here.”
Praying and standing with the family and #SikhCommunity of Harris County Sheriff Depty @sandeepdhaliwa who was fatally shot today. He represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good. Evil you do not win here. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) September 27, 2019
In a separate bust yesterday surround a murder investigation, Texas police
arrested a person who they are referring to as a “possible serial gunman” in the Odessa area. The bust comes after four similar shootings over two days – one of which was fatal.
“The Ector County Sheriff’s Office believes we have the individual responsible for the recent shootings in the last few days in custody,” Sheriff Mike Giffis said Friday night.
The Ector County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t yet released the suspect’s name. But prior to the arrest, police in the area had urged residents to be “cautious” and report any suspicious behavior to 911.
According to Gary Duesler, a spokesman for the Ector County Sheriff’s Office, each of the shootings involved the suspect aiming at broken down cars.
They believe he was driving a white pickup truck, likely with an extended cab or crew-cab. That’s according to a statement from the sheriff’s office, which said that there were varying descriptions of the suspect.
According to police, three of the shootings happened on Tuesday, between 12:45 a.m. and 4:42 p.m.
The sheriff’s office said that one man was shot in the abdomen while he was sitting in his parked car. He was rushed to Medical Center Hospital and has since been released. Police said that there were no other injuries in the other two shootings on Tuesday.
On Thursday night at 10:42 p.m., the fourth shooting took place – leaving a man dead.
According to police, a suspect walked up to the victim and gave the impression he would help with his broken down car. Duesler said he instead shot and killed him.
Police say that all of the weapons involved in the shootings appear to be different caliber hand guns.
According to Sheriff Mike Griffis, a number of agencies were involved in the search for the suspect.
“We will bring him to justice,” Griffis said.
The county includes Odessa. That’s where a shooting rampage took place four weeks ago in which seven people were killed and more than 20 others wounded.
“I hate … that this is happening in our hometown. Again,” Griffis said Friday before the suspect was arrested.
Police plan on releasing more information at a press conference on Monday.
Earlier today, we shared an article about an officer attacked in the line of duty who was able to survive to tell her story. It’s graphic and may be difficult for some people to read.
Officer Stacy West was shot in the line of duty. She survived, and she and her husband joined us to tell her story on camera in a video which can be found here.
The entire reason we launched LET Unity was to give a voice to officers like Stacy who have never been able to tell their stories. It’s a tragic story – but also one filled with hope. With lessons. And with a dose of reality that America needs.
Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like Stacy. We hope you’ll consider signing up. The mainstream media isn’t giving them a platform. Social media is censoring them. Help us to help them.
In case you missed her story… here it is.
I just remember thinking “oh my God I’m being shot right now” and everything at that point – although it’s happening quick – it’s also happening very slow in my mind.
Like there’s not enough time to really react.
My name is Stacy West. I am medically retired police officer from the city of Urbandale, which is located in central Florida.
I worked for the agency only 18 months before I was catastrophically injured on a domestic violence call.
(Below: Dispatch call from when Officer Stacy West was shot.)
That audio is really hard to listen to for a lot of people.
And I’ve listened to it a gagillion times it’s pretty gut wrenching.
So basically what happened is I was called out to a 911 hangup and I was told it was possibly a family disturbance.
And I tell them that I’m on my way out there and I’m probably about 10 minutes from the residence.
It sounded really familiar to me, this place – I knew had been there before. So I looked it up on the map and I was like… yeah, I remember exactly who this person is.
I had some dealings with him a month before for a barking dog complaint.
He was pretty aggressive then, but I shook it off as it’s early in the morning and you know he was just cranky because I woke him up in the middle of the night.
So I walk up to the door. I had my hand on my gun and the first safety down just in case I needed to pull it.
And I get up to the door, reach over with my left hand, knock, ring the doorbell.
Then I turned to check the window, because where I had to walk up to was between the window and the door and on the other side the door is a garage wall. So that was the only place I could stand.
I turned to check the window, and when I do… he starts shooting me.
The first round gets my arm, and it just feels like a lot of pressure.
And at that point because I’m looking at the window, I don’t know if it’s coming from the window or coming from the door.
And it didn’t really feel like pain just a lot of pressure.
That round actually blew out both of my arteries, damaged my median nerve, and flung my hand backwards.
When it flung me backwards, it slowly turned me a little bit.
And then he shot me in my duty weapon – went across the top of the slide, separating the slide from the grip, ejecting the magazine out onto the ground and forcing the round inside to fire and forcing my gun to be completely trapped within my holster and was not able to be removed.
Now I’m facing the door and all of this is happening really, really quickly because he’s slapping the trigger as quick as he can.
And I just remember thinking “Oh my God I’m being shot right now”. Everything at that point, although it’s happening quick, it’s also happening very slow in my mind – like there’s not enough time to really react.
So he gets my abdomen and I just scream at the top of my lungs. That round actually forces me backwards, and as I’m falling backwards I can see the sparks coming out of the door and it was just like the rounds were just coming right over my face.
When I hit the ground, I immediately roll over and just try to get away from him and I dragged myself across the ground with the left side of my body, and my mic had fallen off my shoulder onto the pocket of my shirt.
That triggered me to key up.
I couldn’t hear anything, he had just perforated my eardrums. So I grabbed the mic and I key up and I just screamed “help me”. Then I dragged myself a little farther, and I can still hear him shooting and I key up again I screamed “ I’m hit” and I dragged myself a little further and screamed that I need 911 and I’m going towards this hedge line.
I could see like an opening in the hedges that were in his yard, and I’m just trying to get away as quick as possible and I have no idea if he’s gonna come out and finish the job.
Also I have no idea if I’m getting out on the radio, because I can’t hear anything and I can’t hear anybody say anything back to me.
So I pull myself to the neighbor’s house around the hedge line, and I can hear their garage door opening. I get just near the garage door and I look up and it’s about halfway up, and I can see this Spanish family two men and a woman standing inside the garage.
And I look up at them and I say “help me, please help me”.
And I think they panicked.
They went back in the house and hit the garage door button and the garage door started to come back down.
And I’m not yet inside the garage.
So I pull myself in and I’m exhausted. I had just pulled myself 50 feet. So I’m just completely exhausted and I get just inside the garage.
And I’m looking around.
There’s nowhere else for me to go and I just roll over, and just lay there and I pick up my mic and it sounds like everybody on the radio is just calm like I was afraid I hadn’t really gotten out and I key up again and I said “did you guys hear me? I’ve been hit.”
And they said, “we heard you we’re on our way.”
Now I’ve turned my radio completely down because I have no idea where this guy is.
And I have no backup there, I’m alone and I’m trying to tell the family inside to come back out and close this garage door down.
So they come out and they hit the button and the door’s just like going up and down up and down and I’m still trying to focus on giving my partners directions to find me and they go back inside the garage door is still up.
It’s like this nightmare situation.
And I have no idea where this guy is and I’m just scared to death.
And just alone.
And then they finally come back out – they don’t come totally out, they just crack the door a little bit.
I see a hand come out and hit the garage door button and the garage door starts to come down.
And I’m just laying there now – alone – and thinking about how unfair this is, and unfair for my family and my fiancée – he’s my husband now.
And my mom.
And I just kept thinking about them over and over again and how they weren’t gonna get a chance to say goodbye to me. In that moment I thought I would never take another breath, that was going to be it for me.
And I think the loneliness was probably the worst part.
So I just try to stay focused and try to – you know – give instructions on exactly where I was.
The family does eventually come back out and try to call 911 and they spoke Spanish so they didn’t understand anything I was saying and I didn’t understand anything that they were saying
But my partners… it feels like it takes them forever to get there, and everybody is talking on the radio, everybody is just trying to get out.
At one point I can’t key up anymore, and somebody had been giving bad directions.
They’re like “I think she said she’s in for 407, a baby blue house”, and it wasn’t even close to where I said I was. I was he trying to key up and I kept getting a busy signal because I hadn’t pushed my emergency button and I just remember finally getting through and saying you know get off the radio Goddamn it I’m over here – you guys are going to the wrong place.
So it took about seven minutes for my partners to actually get there and locate me another nine minutes for the fire department to get there and about 17 for the ambulance to show up.
In a nutshell that’s the experience that I had.
The man responsible for the attack took a plea deal – 27 years, and he’ll have to serve every bit of it.
What happened on the legal side of things was a nightmare in and of itself for Stacy, who said she was made to feel like property of the state instead of the victim that she was.
She got no say in whether it would go to trial or the criminal would get a plea deal. She was initially told there’s no way a plea deal would be offered.
Then Stacy was told it wasn’t attempted murder on a police officer, because he shot her through the door and it couldn’t be proven that he “knew it was a cop”.
To hear her full story, you can watch it on LET Unity – it can be found here.
Once again, the entire reason we launched LET Unity was to give a voice to officers like Stacy who have never been able to tell their stories. Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like Stacy. We hope you’ll consider signing up. The mainstream media isn’t giving them a platform. Social media is censoring them. Help us to help them.