HOUSTON – A man was arrested and facing multiple charges after being accused of firing several shots into the air toward responding helicopters after a Houston Police Department helicopter crashed into an apartment building on May 2, according to HPD Chief Art Acevedo.
Josue Daniel Claros-Trajedo, 19, was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault on public servants.
Police said he shot several times after the HPD helicopter, 75-Fox, crashed, killing the tactical flight officer, Jason Knox, and injuring senior police officer Chase Cormier.
“We have charged this individual with two counts of aggravated assault on a public servant involving not 75-Fox, but 79-Fox, which was a backup helicopter that responded,” Acevedo said on Friday.
Acevedo said the suspect’s shooting was not related to the 75-Fox crash, however, according to court documents, Claros-Trajedo fired the firearm "close in time and proximity to when an HPD helicopter crashed into an apartment building.”
Acevedo said LifeFlight also reported gunshots while responding to the deadly helicopter crash. While the surviving officer was being loaded into an ambulance, Claros-Trajedo fired five more shots into the air, per the court documents.
Claros-Trajedo hid firearms in an air vent in his apartment after he was seen, according to court documents. Officials said he admitted to discharging his firearm in an upward direction while drunk.
Claros-Trajedo bond was set at $100,000. He is believed to have an undocumented status in the U.S., according to court documents.
Acevedo said the department will continue to investigate and will disclose more information with the community as the case unfolds.
Here is what happened
The HPD crash was reported at about 2 a.m. at the Biscayne At Cityview Apartment complex located at 17050 Imperial Valley Drive, near the Greenspoint neighborhood.
According to Acevedo, the two officers were in the 75-Fox helicopter from the Houston Police Department’s Air Operations Unit and were investigating reports of bodies floating in a bayou.
“They responded right before 2 a.m. and within minutes we got reports from the Houston Forensic Science Center crime scene unit that was working a murder scene at the 17000 block of Imperial Valley that our helicopter had gone down,” Acevedo said.
Officials from the Houston Fire Department, the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office all rushed to the scene, Acevedo said.
The pilot and the co-pilot were trapped in the wreckage for a while as crews worked to get them out.
Firefighters “worked feverishly to extricate and cut the pilots out. They literally had to cut the pilots out of the wreckage,” Acevedo said.
Once freed, the officers were airlifted to Memorial Hermann hospital for treatment and both were in critical condition with serious injuries, Acevedo said.
“The wreckage was pretty significant,” Acevedo said. “There were no flames involved and that’s been a blessing. And the silver lining. The other silver lining was the pilot was able to avoid the apartment buildings."
None of the residents of the apartment complex were injured in the crash.
“They were able to avoid going into the actual apartment buildings where people were sleeping and were able to, basically, they clipped a part of the clubhouse,” Acevedo said.
The injured pilot and technical flight officer’s families were picked up and rushed to the hospital.