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HPD Police Chief says No. 1 focus is the capital murder investigation for fallen sergeant Preston

HOUSTON – The man accused in a shooting that killed one Houston police officer and wounded another appears to have been hit by gunfire returned from the officer who died, officials said Wednesday.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said it appears that the gunshot wound Elmer Manzano suffered during Tuesday’s shooting was from gunfire returned by HPD Sgt. Harold Preston, who died after being shot by Manzano.

Acevedo said it also appears Preston, who Manzano had pointed a gun at, was reaching for his pistol and attempting to back out of the apartment when Manzano opened fire. He said Preston was hit several times, Officer Courtney Weller was hit in the arm and Manzano’s 14-year-old son was also hit.

The chief said both Weller and Manzano’s son are hospitalized and listed in stable condition.

Manzano is being watched by officers as he recovers from his injuries at a hospital, Acevedo said.

Prosecutors have charged Manzano with capital murder, attempted capital murder and aggravated assault in connection with the shooting. Whether to seek the death penalty against Manzano is being discussed, prosecutors said.

Acevedo said he expected Manzano, a Salvadoran national who is undocumented, to face federal charges, as well. Wednesday evening, U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick said in a tweet that his office had charged Manzano “with being an alien in possession of a firearm and as a felon in possession of a firearm.”

HPD Police Chief Art Acevedo, said, “Our number one focus right now is the capital murder investigation.”

“This family was held hostage by this man in part because of the mom’s immigration status,” he said.

According to the police chief, officers responded to a call Tuesday morning and were met by a woman, along with her 14-year-old son, asking for assistance following a disturbance with her husband, now known to be Manzano.

Acevedo said when he didn’t answer the door, the son used a key to enter the apartment.

“The son immediately said he’s got a gun and officer Waller started to try to back up, trying to go for his pistol. And the suspect immediately opened fire.”

The investigation remains on-going into all of the specifics on how the shooting played out.

“In terms of whether the son should’ve opened up the door or not, that’s a matter that’ll be part of our investigation to see from a tactical standpoint and a tactical perspective if that would’ve been the best approach,” Acevedo said.

For now, though, the chief said the top priority is justice for the victims.

“We need to make sure that we pursue every avenue of justice to bring justice and closure to the Preston family and to everyone involved,” Acevedo said.

Watch a replay of Acevedo’s news conference below:


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