41-year veteran HPD Officer Sgt. Harold Preston dies in shooting near NRG, officials say

Houston authorities said veteran Houston Police Officer Sgt. Harold Preston has died after a shooting near NRG Tuesday morning.

HOUSTON – Houston authorities said veteran Houston Police Officer Sgt. Harold Preston has died after a shooting near NRG Tuesday morning.

Preston was a 41-year veteran of the force. He was struck multiple times, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

His death was disclosed during an update at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

“We’re going to miss him,” Acevedo said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement on Preston’s death:

“Our hearts are with the family of Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston, who was shot and killed in the line of duty this morning. This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the dangers our brave law enforcement officers face while keeping our communities safe. Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in lifting up Sgt. Preston’s family in prayer in their time of need. We also ask all Texans to pray for the speedy recovery of Houston Police Officer Courtney Waller who was shot while responding to the same incident and is recovering in the hospital. The state stands ready to assist the Houston Police Department in bringing to justice the perpetrators of this horrific tragedy.”

Sgt. Harold Preston was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (HPOU)

Another officer is expected to recover with non-life-threatening injuries.

A suspect, Elmer Manzano, is in custody and was hospitalized at Ben Taub for a gunshot wound to the stomach.

A suspect is in custody and on the way to the hospital after a shooting Tuesday in southwest Houston, in which two Houston police officers were shot.

The incident started as a disturbance call about a domestic violence situation at 7:55 a.m., police say. Officers were called to the scene at 8:05 and arrived on the scene at an apartment building in the 2600 block of Holly Hall near El Rio around 8:15 a.m.

The responding officers -- a 3-year veteran officer, a 5-year veteran officer and Preston -- arrived at the scene and met the woman who had called police. She is the estranged wife of Manzano. She was moving out, police say, and she wanted to get some items from the apartment. HPD had two previous calls to the address over the weekend, Acevedo said. The woman wanted to get her things, but the door was locked and she couldn’t get in. Officers were in the parking lot speaking with the woman for close to an hour when at about 9:25, the suspect’s 14-year-old son unlocked the apartment’s door. The son saw the father had a gun and he told the officer that his father had a gun. The suspect then shot at the officers, delivering multiple rounds, according to Acevedo. One officer was hit in the arm. Preston was hit “multiple times” in the head, Acevedo said. Manzano’s son was also struck in the arm.

Neighbor Travis Bryant said he saw one of the injured officers bleeding from his arm.

“He walking back towards this gate and I opened the gate for him and he comes here to the side, and by that time the other officers are showing up to assist him,” Bryant said.

Another neighbor who didn’t want to show her face said she heard six gunshots.

“It’s a tragedy and I truly feel for the officer’s family,” she said.

A police assistance call was made at 9:25 a.m.

SWAT, choppers and canine units responded. At 9:31 a.m. responding officers were able to move Preston from the front door of the apartment.

The two officers who were shot -- Courtney Waller and Preston -- were transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital at 9:32. The suspect’s son who was also hit was transported to Texas Children’s Hospital for the arm injury.

Courtney Waller (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

At 10:26 the suspect looked out the window and saw SWAT had surrounded the building. He then came out. An elderly female also came out, Acevedo said.

Preston died at the hospital with his family -- including his mother, his 23-year-old daughter, his fiancee and ex-wife -- around him, Acevedo said.

Two officers were shot and both were transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo shared the news of the shooting first on Twitter.

This is a developing story. KPRC 2 will update with the latest information as it becomes available.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.