An off-duty Conroe officer said he had no choice but to kill a shoplifting suspect after he said the teen attacked him.
Around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, Walmart loss prevention officers attempted to detain a shoplifting suspect at the store in the 1400 block of North Loop 336.
According to reports, the suspect ran from the loss prevention officers after they saw him trying to steal cell phone covers.
Investigators said off-duty officer, Sgt. Jason Blackwelder, was with his family at the store, saw what was going on, and tried to stop 19-year-old Russell Rios as he ran into a wooded area nearby.
Once in the wooded area to the southwest of the store, police said the officer got into a violent struggle with the suspect. During the struggle, the suspect started choking the sergeant; fearing for his life, the sergeant shot the suspect, killing him.
"The suspect and officer engaged in a very intense physical confrontation to the point that the officer being choked by the suspect, he feared for his life, felt like he was going to lose consciousness and fired his weapon," said Conroe police Sgt. Dorcy Riddle.
Friends of the teen can't believe Rios would act so violently because they said the person they knew was kind and gentle.
"Nobody believes it, I don’t believe it,” said Rios’ girlfriend, Erika Garcia. “I feel like I am going to walk inside and he is going to be there.”
Rios died at the scene.
The officer was treated and released from an area hospital with minor injuries.
Police said he was placed on administrative leave, per agency protocol, until the conclusion of the investigation.