MCALLEN, Texas – Two police officers were shot and killed Saturday by a suspect who later fatally shot himself in a South Texas border town after responding to a domestic disturbance call.
McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez identified the slain officers as Edelmiro Garza, 45, and Ismael Chavez, 39. Garza was an officer with the Police Department for more than eight years while Chavez had over two years of experience.
"We have lost two brave public servants who sought only to keep peace in our city," Rodriguez, visibly distraught, told the (McAllen) Monitor.
The officers first met with two people who reported assaults that took place inside a nearby home, Rodriguez said. But the shooter, whom police identified as Audon Ignacio Camarillo, 23, opened fire when officers attempted to enter the home.
"They were doing their job. That is what they were supposed to do. The person was a suspect of the incident, met our officers at the door, and shot at both officers," Rodriguez said. "The officers never had a chance to suspect deadly assault on them, much less death."
Camarillo shot and killed himself shortly after opening fire, Rodriguez said, adding that the suspect hid behind a vehicle after other officers arrived. Camarillo had a few run-ins with police beginning in 2016 to his most recent arrest last month on assault charges, according to public records.
The police chief said the attack happened suddenly and fellow police officers didn't learn of the officers' deaths until arriving moments later.
"The next few days for us, moving forward as well, will be very, very difficult, for ourselves at the department and at the city of McAllen, but our strength will get us through," the chief said. "We gather our strength from our police officers, and we gather our strengths from our colleagues, as you can see here."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who spoke with Rodriguez, offered the full backing of the state and expressed his support via social media.
"Two of our finest were killed in the line of duty while working to protect residents in their community," Abbott wrote on Twitter. "We unite to #BackTheBlue."
Lt. Christopher Olivarez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said DPS was among the agencies assisting McAllen police.
Law enforcement from several cities in Hidalgo County gathered Saturday evening at McAllen Medical to honor Garza and Chavez. More than 50 police cars were part of a procession that accompanied the officers' bodies as they were taken for autopsies.
McAllen, at the southern tip of Texas, is 70 miles west of the Gulf of Mexico.