HOUSTON – A man with an AR-15 rifle ambushed three Harris County deputies early Saturday morning, killing one and wounding two others while they were responding to a disturbance outside a bar in north Houston, authorities said.
The deputies had been working an extra shift at 45 Norte Bar and Lounge and responded to a report of a robbery outside the bar around 2:12 a.m. Two deputies were trying to arrest a robbery suspect when the gunman opened fire on them, authorities said. Upon hearing the gunshots, the third deputy rushed outside to aid his fellow deputies and was also shot.
Deputy Kareem Atkins died from his injuries. He was 30. Atkins began working with Precinct 4 in January 2019. He had recently returned from paternity leave. He leaves behind a wife and two-month-old child.
Deputy Juqaim Barthen, 26, and Deputy Darrell Garrett, 28, were wounded in the shooting. Barthen joined Precinct 4 in September 2019. Garrett joined in March 2018.
Garrett was shot in the back multiple times and underwent surgery at Memorial Hermann in downtown Houston. Garrett’s fiancée Lajah Richardson told KPRC 2 both his kidneys and his gallbladder were removed and one bullet struck his spine. He remains in stable but critical condition in the ICU. Richardson added Garrett will need a kidney transplant in the future.
“They’re going to have to do a kidney transplant down the line,” Richardson said. “They said they’re not doing it right now because they have to focus on the injuries he has at the moment.”
Richardson added that they had just got engaged last week and that Garrett celebrated his three-year work anniversary with Precinct 4 earlier this year.
“I’m just praying and asking God to watch over him and all of us,” Richardson told KPRC 2′s Deven Clarke. “This is hard for everybody. It’s unbelievable. We still can’t believe that we lost a good friend, a partner.”
Richardson said Garrett had returned from Cancún yesterday.
“We’ve just been working, trying to get a new life started, me and him,” Richardson said. “This is testing my faith as of right now. That’s all I can say. I’m going to keep all of my positive energy and keep faith and pray that he’ll make it through this.”
“It’s so much,” Richardson said. “My mind has been all over the place. I’m still trying to fathom how somebody could do something like this, just being at a club. How? How can you have so much hate in your heart . . . It makes no sense.”
Richardson said she still can’t believe what happened.
“Today everyone has been praying and crying and praying and crying and that’s how it’s going to be for the next few months, our new journey in life,” Richardson said. ”We’re asking God to restore him and get him back to how he used to be because I need him to get back to normal for his family, for me and for our new life that we’re trying to start together. I’m going to ride with him. I’m going to stick by his side and whatever I’ve got to do to help him, I’m going to help him and that’s just it.”
Richardson said she and Garrett recently began saving for a home.
“We were trying to do everything the right way and now we have to put everything on hold,” Richardson said.
The shooting remains under investigation by the Houston Police Department.