2022 has proven difficult for the Houston area and its law enforcement community, with several law enforcement officers losing their lives.
These are the Houston-area officers who’ve died since the year began.
Aug. 28: Harris County Precinct 3 Deputy Omar Ursin
An off-duty deputy constable with Precinct 3 was fatally shot in Atascocita while returning home from picking up food for his family, authorities said.
Deputies with the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office responded to reports of a shooting in the 11900 block of Madera Run Parkway around 6:30 p.m. Deputies said the caller reportedly heard gunshots and said that someone was shot inside of a vehicle.
When deputies arrived at the scene, they found a small car crashed into a tree in the median of the roadway. The driver and lone occupant of the vehicle, who was identified as Pct. 3 Deputy Omar Ursin, 37, suffered at least one gunshot wound, investigators said. He was transported to the hospital, where deputies said he was pronounced dead.
May 11: Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Adam Howard
Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Adam Howard, 27, died in a crash May 11 after his vehicle clipped the back of a 18-wheeler parked on the shoulder of Tomball Parkway, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
“It was a pretty horrific impact,” Gonzalez said.
Howard was an investigator with the agency’s Violent Gang Suppression Unit.
He leaves behind his wife, their two-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.
“When we lose a deputy, it’s not only a loss for the agency, it’s a loss for the community because we’ve lost one more fine fighter, one more hero that puts their life on the line everyday” Gonzalez said.
April 2: Harris County Precinct 7 Constable Deputy Jennifer Chavis
Harris County Precinct 7 Constable Deputy Jennifer Chavis died April 2 when a suspected drunk driver slammed into the back of her patrol car.
That evening, authorities received calls about a possibly intoxicated driver in a large truck who had fled an accident, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Chavis responded, parked her patrol vehicle on the side of Beltway 8 and waited for the driver to pass so she could then follow and pull him over, authorities said.
The driver ended up crashing into the back of Chavis’ patrol car, which burst into flames, said Harris County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Anthony McConnell. Chavis died at the scene.
Good Samaritans who witnessed the crash pulled over and kept the truck driver from fleeing, Gonzalez said.
The truck driver, Adolfo Serrano, 36, was charged with intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer.
“My heart is hurting and I just ask you that you pray for the family and the friends of this constable,” McConnell said.
An Army veteran, Chavis began working for Precinct 7 in November 2021 and was assigned to the toll road division. She leaves behind her husband, their four-year-old child, and the 11-year-old nephew they were raising together.
“It’s just hard to come to terms with,” said Jocelyn Fowler, Chavis’s younger sister. “My sister doesn’t get to come home to her son, and we are trying to figure out how to explain that to him,”
March 31: Harris County deputy Deputy Darren Almendarez
Off-duty Harris County deputy Darren Almendarez, 51, was killed in a shooting in a grocery store parking lot on March 31 when he interrupted three men who were trying to steal his catalytic converter, authorities said.
Almendarez was fatally shot during an exchange of gunfire with the men. Two of the suspects were shot and wounded, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Those men, Joshua Stewart, 23, and Fredarius Clark, 19, are charged with capital murder, according to court documents.
A third person, a male teenager, 17, was also taken into custody on a capital murder charge.
Gonzalez said Almendarez and his wife had been shopping for groceries for a Friday cookout for Almendarez’s sister, who was celebrating her birthday March 31.
“We’re tired that people aren’t even safe to go out to the grocery store. This is a cop. This is a cop that’s just out with his family. It could be any one of us — and it happened to be him,” Gonzalez said.
Almendarez was assigned to the auto theft division and had served the Sheriff’s Office for 23 years.
Feb. 23: San Jacinto County Pct. 1 Deputy Neil Adams
San Jacinto County Precinct 1 Deputy Neil Adams was working an off-duty security job at PlazAmericas mall in southwest Houston when he was fatally shot by a man who gained control of his gun during an altercation.
The suspect was shot by police and later died.
Adams was a deputy constable with San Jacinto County. He joined the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office in 2012. He was the county’s the environmental officer.
“We lost one of our heroes. He was a good man,” San Jacinto County Precinct 1 Constable Roy Rogers said. “He worked hard to take care of his family, to take care of the constituents of our county.”
Jan. 24: HCSO Sgt. Ramon Gutierrez
On Jan. 24. Sgt. Ramon Gutierrez had been working an off-duty job directing traffic as a motorcycle escort for a convoy of oversized machinery when he was struck by a suspected intoxicated driver on East Sam Houston Parkway N. at Tidwell . He died a short time later at a Memorial Hermann Health System hospital. He was 45.
Authorities said Gutierrez was in full uniform with a reflective jacket on and his motorcycle’s emergency lights activated when he was hit.
The driver, Lavillia Spry, has been charged with intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer, failure to stop and render aid resulting in death and evading arrest or detention in connection to the fatal crash.
Gutierrez was a 20-year veteran who served in the vehicular crimes division for the sheriff’s office.
Jan. 23: Harris County Pct. 5 Corporal Charles Galloway
Harris County Precinct 5 Corporal Charles Galloway was shot and killed during a traffic stop around 12:45 a.m. on Jan. 23. The 12-year veteran had stopped a driver in the 9100 block of Beechnut Street. A man exited the stopped the car and fired several shots at Galloway who died at the scene.
Galloway served in the Precinct 5 Toll Road Division and was promoted to corporal in 2020.
The man accused in Galloway’s death was captured in Mexico. Oscar Rosales, 51, is charged with capital murder.
Dec. 12, 2022: Officer Vidal Lopez
An off-duty officer with the Houston Police Department has died Monday after his vehicle collided with a train in north Houston Wednesday morning, according to HPD Chief Troy Finner.
Finner said the officer, Vidal Lopez, who was a 20-year veteran of the force, was heading to work in his personal vehicle when it was struck by a train at a crossing track in the 6700 block of Fulton Street.
Lopez was hospitalized at the Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, where he later died.
Finner said Lopez, 42, is survived by his wife, who is currently pregnant.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. Read more here.