Levelland, TX – A Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant was shot and killed and four other officers were shot by a barricaded suspect in a residence on Thursday afternoon.

The incident began after a report of a man possibly armed just after 1PM Thursday on a residential street in Levelland, about 30 miles west of Lubbock.  Officers arrived and gunfire erupted shortly after. The suspect then barricaded himself inside the home and a standoff ensued, triggering the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team to respond to the location.

It is unclear what prompted the man to open fire or to barricade himself in the house. However, the standoff ended 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.

At 1:12 p.m. Thursday, Levelland police received a report that the complainant’s neighbor “was acting strange and was walking around with what appeared to be a large gun,” Garcia said. Arriving officers determined the neighbor’s pickup truck matched the description that the trooper provided of the vehicle with the apparently provocative driver at the wheel, CBS DFW reported.

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Garcia said investigators believed the man was alone in the house. A police negotiator attempted to open dialogue with the suspect, who was hostile and refused to talk, Garcia said. Soon after, the suspect opened the front door to the house and opened fire on the Levelland officers. “We did return fire, but it did not appear that we struck the suspect at that time,” the chief said.

Backup was called from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT unit and the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office. “It wasn’t long thereafter that we had additional shots fired, and we had officers that were injured,” Garcia said.

Sgt. Josh Bartlett of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was struck by gunfire shortly after arriving. He was transported to a local hospital where he died of his wounds. Bartlett was the commander of the SWAT unit. Bartlett was a nine-year veteran of the department who had served overseas in the U.S. Army.

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

Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson was in critical but stable condition in University Medical Center in Lubbock after surgery, said Police Chief Albert Garcia. The other three officers were treated for minor injuries, and at least some had been discharged from the hospital, he said.

The suspect, identified as 22-year-old Omar Soto-Chavira, was arrested after an 11-hour standoff.  Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres said he had a history of contact with police.

“Our community mourns the loss of Sgt. Josh Bartlett, with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team,” the Levelland Police Department said in a statement. “He gave his life in the defense of the citizens of Levelland today. We send our heartfelt prayers to his family, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service, Sgt. Bartlett. It is a debt we can never repay.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sgt. Bartlett’s family, friends, and department. We wish the officers a speedy recovery as well.

This piece was written by Ray Dietrich on July 16, 2021. It originally appeared in ThinBlueLineTV.com and is used by permission.

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