HOUSTON – The Houston police SWAT team was involved in an officer-involved shooting with suspects who police believed were about to try to rob an armored truck, officials said in a press conference Friday afternoon.
Police said at some point on Friday morning, a Ford F-250 pickup truck was reported stolen. As part of a greater investigation into armored truck robberies, officials believed the truck may have been stolen to be used in another such robbery, according to HPD executive assistant chief Matt Slinkard.
"These are armed, dangerous hijackers out here committing armed robberies," Slinkard said. "We've seen it happening now for quite some time and the Houston Police Department has been aggressively investigating this."
With this in mind, officers tailed the stolen truck with the belief that the occupants would try to use it to rob an armored car. Meanwhile, two members of the Houston police SWAT team got in an armored car on its route Friday afternoon and others tailed it as well.
Late Friday morning, the armored car stopped in the parking lot of a Walgreens at 16244 South Post Oak Road near Court Road. The stolen pickup truck stopped nearby and investigating officers saw three men in the truck put on ski masks in what they believe was preparation to rob the armored car, Slinkard said.
"At that time, as our officers were getting ready to take them into custody once they exited that vehicle, they did not exit the vehicle after the armored car at that time, likely because the armored car drivers and our SWAT team did not get out of the armored car," Slinkard said in the press conference.
The suspects in the stolen truck began to drive away and two marked police units with members of the SWAT team in them followed and tried to pull them over. The suspects wouldn't stop and so officials conducted a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver to stop them in the parking lot of the strip mall at 16100 South Post Oak Road near Court Road.
Two suspects in the truck tried to flee on foot and were quickly caught by officers. A third suspect got out of the passenger side of the pickup truck with an AR-15 rifle and exchanged gunfire with SWAT officers, Slinkard said. The suspect was shot and was airlifted to a hospital for treatment in critical condition. No law enforcement officers or civilians were injured in the gunfire.
Police don't know if there's a connection between the fatal armored truck robbery from last week and the incident from Friday.
"It's time for this to stop. It's enough. And if you think you're going to come out here and prey on innocent victims in our society and you're going to mask up and you're going to get rifles and you're going to steal somebody's car that they need to go to work and support their family, and you're going to come out here and hijack and armored car, we have news for you today," Slinkard said. "Today, that armored car had SWAT officers inside of it."
Multiple agencies will be at the scene for several hours investigating including the Houston Police Department, the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office, and officials with the Houston Forensic Science Center.