HOUSTON – The Houston Police Department is mourning the loss of a fallen officer.
Sgt. Harold Lloyd Preston, a 41-year veteran of the force, was shot to death after responding to a disturbance call Tuesday morning. While officer Courtney Waller was wounded by gunfire but is expected to survive.
“This is no doubt a very heartbreaking and difficult day for our officers," Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said. "There was a moment when everyone got together and prayed for the family and loved ones of both officers.”
The chief said Preston was truly a hero, who made it his mission to serve. Acevedo said Preston was an example of how to lead.
“I will just say this about Sgt. Preston," he said. "This man’s been around for 41 years, and people throw out the word hero all the time, and I’m not calling him a hero because of the way he died, but he is a hero. He’s a guy who is in his 60s, 41 years, and he’s leading from where we want our sergeant to lead -- from the front.”
Preston was part of HPD Academy Class 86 and was first sworn in on Aug. 25, 1979.
“I want us to lift up these families and, specifically, the family of Sgt. Harold Preston," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "A lot of people knew him.”
“It seems it’s only the good ones that go first," said Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said. “This is a pain that no mother and no daughter should go through, and they shouldn’t be burying a dad and a son.”
A family man
Family members described Preston as a hardworking sergeant but an even better son, who took care of his elderly parents with whom he lived. He was also a good father to his 23-year-old daughter. His family, fiancee and former wife all said he was a good man.
Outside Memorial Hermann Hospital Trauma Center, law enforcement, loved ones, city leaders and firefighters wanted the families to know they are not alone.
Also in recovery at Memorial Hermann, Officer Courtney Waller, a three-year veteran of the force, who the chief said has a twin in law enforcement. Waller was hit in the arm during the shooting and is expected to survive.
Preston on the other hand, was shot multiple times in the head and then in the shoulder, Acevedo said. One of the bullets became embedded in his spine, Acevedo said.
Acevedo said Preston died while being surrounded by his loved ones. He said doctors were able to keep Preston alive so that he could say goodbye to his loved ones. Many of those people lined up as police transported their hero to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement on the shooting and loss of Sgt. Preston:
“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.”