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Updated: Monday, 09 Apr 2012, 2:59 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 06 Apr 2012, 3:24 AM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - A 24-year-old man was charged with capital murder Friday in the shooting death of an Austin police officer at a Walmart off Interstate 35 near Parmer Lane.
Brandon Montgomery Daniel was formally booked into the jail after 8:30 a.m. and no bail had been set by the end of Friday.
Daniel is accused of killing Senior Officer Jaime Padron, a three-year veteran of the Austin Police Department. Padron was shot in the neck while responding to a call shortly after 2 a.m. of an intoxicated man inside the Wal-Mart in the 12900 block of IH-35 and Parmer in north Austin.
According to the arrest affidavit, employees said he was drunk and that he was shoplifting.
When Padron arrived at the store, the suspect was walking towards the front door when Padron reacher for his arm stating, 'I need to speak with you.' According to the Wal-Mart employee, the suspect ducked his shoulder trying to get away from the officer but the officer tried to stop him again.
When interviewed by detectives, Daniel said that he knowingly brought a gun with a live round of ammunition into the Wal-Mart for "display of intimidation should anyone attempt to stop him."
The man suspected of firing the fatal shot was in custody after store employees helped disarm him. Police said Padron, 40, did not have time to draw his weapon.
"This is the most trying day of my five years here," said Police Chief Art Acevedo, who was flanked by City Manager Marc Ott, Police Monitor Margo Fraser and others at a late afternoon news conference at police headquarters.
Acevedo said two shots were fired at Padron. One struck the officer in his protective vest. The fatal shot struck him in his neck. He died at the scene. A third shot did not strike anyone, the chief said, though the suspect fired at a Walmart employee.
The chief also pointed out that the events were recorded on Walmart security video. He declined to specify what the video showed but expressed confidence that the recording would bolster the case against Daniel.
According to jail records, Daniel was previously arrested in February on a driving while intoxicated charge. He was due to appear in court on Thursday for that offense. Public records and his Facebook page show he used to be a resident of Colorado before moving to Austin. It lists that he attended a high school in Parker, Colo., and then Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He moved to Austin and works at Hewlett-Packard, according to his Facebook information. Due to the Good Friday holiday, officials at HP could not be reached for comment about Daniel.
When detectives interviewed Daniel's roommate, Kelvin Davis, at their apartment complex in the 3400 block of W. Parmer Lane, Davis mentioned that only a few hours before the shooting, Daniel mentioned possibly robbing a store.
According to the affidavit, Davis said he reminded his roommate that he has a DWI in Austin and a possession of Marijuana charge in Tulia. Daniel replied, "Dude, I've gotten away with worse s*** than that. I run from the cops on my bike almost daily."
Padron came to Austin after 14 years with the San Angelo Police Department. Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that honors law enforcement officers killed while doing their duty, set up a memorial page for him just hours after the shooting.
The incident on the eve of a holiday weekend jarred the police department.
"It's a tragedy on Good Friday to lose an officer like this, but it's part of what these men and women do," Acevedo told reporters at 6 a.m. "They know when they become police officers that this is ultimately the sacrifice they are willing to make."
How to help
The nonprofit 100 Club of Central Texas has set up fund to assist Officer Padron's family
Austin police officers have set up a memorial fund in Officer Padron's memory via Austin Cops For Charities.
Acevedo said he spoke with the slain officer's family around 5 a.m.
The officer had been on the force for more than three years, he was a father of two young daughters, ages 10 and 6. He leaves behind an ex-wife who lives in the area, parents and family in San Angelo.
Public Information Officer Anthony Hipolito said they got a 911 call at 2:20 a.m. of an intoxicated person wandering around the store. The officer who was killed was the first to arrive at the scene eight minutes after being dispatched to Walmart.
Timeline of events
When he went inside, the officer made contact with the man, who immediately began fighting with the officer.
During the fight, the man pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and shot the officer at point blank in the neck area, according to Acevedo. The officer was able to radio for help, saying he had been shot.
Another officer arrived and took the suspect into custody after Walmart employees were able
to take him down and disarm him. The backup officer began administering CPR to the fallen officer shortly after the shooting.
"Despite the valiant efforts of our officer who started CPR, and EMS, the officer succumb to his injury and was pronounced at the scene at 2:44 a.m.," Acevedo said.
Acevedo spoke with the family of the officer around 5:30 a.m.
Before serving on the force, he worked for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport police as part of the emergency management department that consolidated with APD in 2009. Before that, he was on the San Angelo Police Department.
At the Walmart, onlookers witnessed the poignant scene of dozens of the fallen officer's colleagues dressed in blue lined up on both sides of a police vehicle and ambulance in front of the store, standing in salute when the officer's body was loaded into the vehicle and taken away.
A Walmart spokesperson said on Friday that the associates did not violate policy and they are pleased with how they handled the situation. The employees will not be made available to speak publicly about the incident, at least for now.
"We want to put the community at ease that there is a suspect in custody and not someone running around on the loose," said Hipolito.
Familiar with the strong ties of a tight-knit police family, Travis County sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene around 5:30 a.m. to offer their condolences to the department.
The entire parking lot is off limits, as police have that and all entrances blocked off. No one can get into the Walmart, and a lot of people have not even been able to leave the store.
Acevedo said they are making sure to gather everything at the scene.
Witnesses said they were in the back of the store when they heard a loud boom and thought it was a 2x4 hitting the floor. That's when a Walmart employee came running up screaming about a shooting.
The witnesses said they ran to the front of the store and saw someone on the floor receiving CPR, though they didn't know it was an Austin police officer at the time. Officers had already responded by that time, and people had begun to gather at the front of the store by the McDonald's at the entrance.
"I personally want to thank some of the employees at Walmart," said Acevedo. "Even in this tragedy, I'm heartened by the fact that two brave souls immediately started taking action and actually tackled the suspect to the ground before he was able to hurt anyone else."
The Walmart and its parking lot remained closed while the police investigation continued, but reopened late in the afternoon..
"WalMart wants to express their deepest sympathies to the family of the officer and fellow officers," said Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee. "We are cooperating with police and assist them as much as possible with the case. We truly appreciate what they do to serve and protect our community.
"We are working to have grief counselors on site for the employees tonight. The store has reopened completely. They are thankful that their associates were so courageous under those circumstances."
The deadly shooting early Friday morning came seven hours after another officer-involved shooting in East Austin that ended in the death of a suspect and the officer involved hospitalized with injuries.
"I absolutely, I don't believe for a minute this has anything to do with the officer-involved shooting last night," said the chief.
Acevedo said that officer came very close to losing his life and that he is thankful we are not talking about two dead officers Friday morning.
"Imagine two officer-involved shootings in one night," said Acevedo. "Our city is changing, and we just have to understand that we have to be cautious, and we have to be aware that as we continue to grow we are going to have challenges."
It has been eight years since an Austin police office died in the line of duty. Amy Donovan was killed in 2004 after being hit by a patrol car driven by her partner.
In hearing that the suspect who killed Padron was Asian-American, the Network of Asian American Organizations on Friday issued a statement of condolences:
"On behalf of the Network of Asian American Organizations and the Asian community, we would like to send our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Padron. The NAAO fully supports the Austin Police Department and the City of Austin."
The Walnut Creek Neighborhood Association will be tying a yellow ribbon on a tree at 2:30 p.m. Friday at APD's Lamplight Village Avenue station on Lamplight Village Avenue in honor of Officer Padron. Funeral arrangements were not announced as of Friday afternoon.
If he is convicted of capital murder in Padron's death, Daniel could be sentenced to death.
On Monday, Hewlett-Packard released a statement about Daniel, who is employed by the company:
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Officer Padron. Brandon Daniel is an HP employee, and the company will
cooperate fully with law enforcement as requested."
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