HOUSTON - A Houston police sergeant shot himself Friday in the department's Westside station, Chief Art Acevedo said.
The station is located on Dairy Ashford Road near Richmond Avenue.
According to Acevedo, the man was found dead in a stairwell on the fourth floor of the station. He had suffered what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, he said.
Acevedo did not release the identity of the man, saying he was a 21-year veteran of the department, and he has two children, a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, who do not know yet.
"You can imagine anytime you deal with an unplanned death, especially with such a young family, a person that is really in the prime of their life, you can't explain these things," Acevedo said. "They need time. So we ask that people please pray for the family, pray for the children and colleagues."
Acevedo said they started searching for him after he didn't show up for work at 7 a.m. They said no one heard the shot fired as it was in a remote, unused stairwell of the department.
The chief said they plan to perform a psychological autopsy on the sergeant so they can find out exactly what led up to the incident.
"Through the psychological autopsy, we want to know how did we end up here," Acevedo said. "We want to make sure that we can do everything we can to keep our folks emotionally healthy so we don't have to have these kinds of tragedies."
The chief said the family will not be alone in the grieving process.
Ray Hunt with the Houston Police Officer's Union said suicides among police officers are not more common, they're just reported on more frequently.
He said it's important to remember that police officers are humans too.
"Citizens tend to think that police officers are Teflon and maybe don't have the same problems that they do. We have the same type of financial issues, issues at home, issues with kids, health issues, all those same things that anybody else has," Hunt said.
Hunt said they offer a 24-hour hotline to anyone needing to talk. It's called the Houston Officers Peer Assistance. That number is 832-200-3499.
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