BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays County Sheriff’s Office said a license plate reader helped them track down a homicide suspect last week.

Shortly after midnight Thursday, HCSO responded to the Insta-Fuel Travel Center, 16649 Interstate 35, in Buda for a report of an unconscious man near the gas pumps, the release said.

HCSO said deputies responded to the scene and found a man with apparent gunshot wounds to his body.

The man was later pronounced dead by Hays County Justice of the Peace Sandra Bryant, according to HCSO.

The sheriff’s office said detectives were able to “positively identify the vehicle driven by the suspect through the camera footage at the store and a FLOCK camera hit.”

At around 7 p.m. that evening, a patrol deputy saw the vehicle and tried to pull it over.

“After a short vehicle and foot pursuit, the suspect was located and arrested,” the release said.

Image of Omar Guadalupe Galvan-Ochoa courtesy of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office

Investigators identified the suspect as Omar Guadalupe Galvan-Ochoa, 27, the release said.

‘It’s a game changer’

According to HCSO, he is charged with murder and evading arrest with a vehicle.

“Without that Flock camera, I don’t think that arrest could have been made in that short amount of time,” Hays County Sheriff Deputy Anthony Hipolito said.

Hipolito said the sheriff’s office searched through the license plate reader’s database for that type of vehicle.

“All we entered was essentially a dark-colored Chevrolet pickup and it provided certain pictures that were obtained through the Flock software,” Hipolito said. “It showed a truck that we thought could potentially match the suspects truck that was driving in the parking lot that night.”

Specific markers like damage and bumper stickers helped solidify that match.

“It’s a game changer,” Hipolito said.

Flock cameras in Buda

The City of Buda added Flock safety cameras in August 2022. At the time, city council approved six cameras throughout the city.

Buda Police Community Affairs Officer Freddy Erdman said they are putting them in key locations.

“High traffic areas, entry and exit points, roadways, and things of that nature,” Officer Erdman said. “We do have a couple located near retail areas that we have seen a high incidence of crime, burglary vehicle, criminal mischief and theft.”

Erdman said the information from the camera is helping them solve one of their most common crimes: vehicle burglary.

“We can average somewhere between two to three vehicles stolen vehicles recovered a month,” Erdman said.

Erdman said the system is helping in some surprising ways.

“There were cold cases that never would have come to light, never would had a workable lead, or anything to follow up on,” he said. “Some of them resulted in arrests and filing criminal charges.”

Erdman said he understands some people might be concerned with privacy, but he clarified this doesn’t have facial recognition.

“Only investigative personnel and command staff have access to conduct searches or to review data,” he said.

Erdman said the department hasn’t encountered anything it doesn’t like about the system so far.

“Some of the major crimes in Buda really consist of property crimes, thefts, sometimes crimes against persons. One of the biggest categories is burglary motor vehicles. Flock has been very effective in helping us investigate those and curb the incidence greatly,” Erdman said.