‘Like the Wild, Wild West’: Witness describes shootout that killed HPD sergeant

HOUSTON – A witness to Monday’s deadly shootout that killed a Houston police sergeant described the scene to KPRC 2 during an exclusive interview Friday.

Police said Sgt. Sean Rios, a 25-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, was killed along the North Freeway when he tried to intervene in an earlier exchange of gunfire between two vehicles on the freeway. Police said Rios died after stumbling to a nearby motel to ask for help.

“I haven’t slept a full night since,” said the witness, who wished to remain anonymous.

According to the witness, he heard two shots then looked toward the gunfire. He said he saw Rios in plain clothes coming up the street with his gun pointed at Robert Soliz, who has been charged with murder in connection with the case.

The witness said Soliz ran into a nearby greenhouse inside a nursery, while Rios took cover behind a chain-link fence pole on the perimeter of the nursery.

“They both began pointing their guns at each other and I heard shots,” said the witness.

Soliz was ducking, dodging and shooting behind plants, while the sergeant fired shots from the fence pole, according to the witness.

“It was literally like the Wild, Wild West,” said the witness.

A couple of minutes later the dynamic changed, according to the witness. He said another man at the scene started giving hand signals to Rios.

“So he would give sergeant Rios the okay to look around, get an aim or take a shot,” said the witness.

The witness said the same man also gave hand signals to Soliz.

As the gun battle continued, the sergeant dropped to his knees, according to the witness. The man giving hand gestures then signaled for Soliz to come out of the nursery, according to the witness.

“The suspect bolted in a fast run towards Rios with gun pointed,” said the witness.

When the suspect was just feet away from Rios, the witness ducked behind a car, then heard a shot.

When the witness got back up, sergeant Rios was running towards the motel. Meanwhile, Soliz and the other man were chatting, according to the witness.

“[They] said, ‘Come on let’s go,’ and they both sped off,” said the witness.

Soliz was arrested on Tuesday. He’s being held in jail on a $700,000 bond.

Police said Tuesday they are also looking for another man who was described as a “person of extreme interest.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.

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