HOUSTON – Two police officers who were shot Tuesday during a burglary investigation in a southwest Houston neighborhood continued to recover in hospitals Wednesday.
The incident was reported about 12:20 p.m. in the 8700 block of Sterlingame Drive, between Bellfort Avenue and West Airport Boulevard, just east of Beltway 8.
Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said officers were called to the neighborhood just after 11 a.m. to investigate a reported burglary. About 20 minutes later, officers who had arrived in the neighborhood were flagged down by a resident who said there was a burglary in progress. More officers were called to the area, a perimeter was established and a search began.
Another person told two officers they noticed that the door to a shed in their backyard was open, Acevedo said. As the officers opened the door to the shed, a man stepped out and began shooting. The officers returned fire, killing the gunmen.
Acevedo said Officer Ronny Cortez, a 24-year veteran of the department, was shot several times in the stomach and back. He was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition with a bullet lodged near his spine.
Dr. David Persse said Cortez's condition has been improving since his arrival. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday that the officer is "possibly paralyzed."
"We need prayers," said Cortez's wife, Sheri. "We are not out of the woods yet."
Officer Jose Munoz, a 10-year veteran of the department, was shot in the foot and leg, Acevedo said. He was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Officials said he could be released Wednesday.
Dozens of officers and police vehicles were seen in the Glenshire neighborhood where the shooting happened.
"All of the sudden they mention that name, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, that could be our officer,'" a resident said.
"From the first time I looked out, the officers were armed and their weapons were drawn. I knew they were being alert," another resident said.
A shelter-in-place order was issued for the neighborhood while police searched the area for the second person believed to be involved in the shooting. While the second person was never found, Acevedo urged residents of the neighborhood to call 911 if they noticed anything suspicious.
"They really help the subdivision a lot. Every time there's a problem, they are very much standing up for the community and keeping us informed," a third resident said. "I've been in the neighborhood over 12 years, (and it's) very quiet. (We've) never had any problems like this. It's scary."
Nearby schools Gross Elementary, Valley West Elementary and Welch Middle were locked down because of the search, according to the Houston Independent School District. Those lockdowns were lifted about 3:40 p.m.
The Brays Oak campus of Houston Community College was closed for the remainder of Tuesday, according to officials.
If you would like to help the injured officers, click here for a link to donate.
Anyone with information about the case should call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477. A $20,000 reward is being offered.