SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A police officer is dead and two other officers are in critical condition after a shooting Saturday night that San Marcos police are describing as an “ambush.”
The San Marcos Police Department posted on Facebook around 7:15 p.m., urging people in the area to shelter in place as they responded to an “incident” on Hunter Road. That incident was a call about an assault/domestic disturbance at the Twin Lakes Villas Apartments.
“The initial call was that he had hit his wife, that there was other endangered people possibly inside and that alcohol was involved,” said San Marcos Interim Police Chief Bob Klett during a press conference Sunday morning.
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Police say three of their officers were ambushed as they tried to help.
“Medic 13… Respond to 2917 Hunter Road Twin Lakes Village duplexes apartment 35, shots fired,” a Broadcastify recording captured dispatchers calling for back up.
“Battalion 6– Can we dispatch a unit from Kyle for coverage in San Marcos, please?” the recording reveals.
First responders from across Hays County rushed to the apartment complex.
“I was watching TV, you know, relaxing, and I just heard the shots and I came outside, just like everybody else,” says neighbor Jose Martinez.
Interim Chief Klett says the suspect was armed with a rifle and wearing body armor.
“He was prepared, ready for them to come in and started shooting immediately and there was nothing they could do to escape the gunfire,” Klett says.
During Sunday’s press conference, Klett identified Justin Putnam as the officer who was killed at the scene. Putnam, a Texas State University graduate, was 31 and had been with SMPD for five and a half years.
“We lost a fine young man, a faithful officer and friend last night,” Klett told the media. “He understood what it took to police a wonderfully diverse community like San Marcos.”
Two other officers, Justin Mueller and Franco Stewart, were injured and taken to Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle, where they underwent surgery late on Saturday night.
Mueller has been an officer for 10 months. He previously served as a telecommunications operator with with the department for more than 11 years. Stewart has been with the department for five months. He was previously with McAllen PD for two and a half years.
During the press conference, Klett confirmed that both Mueller and Stewart are in a critical but stable condition.
“I did see the two officers dragging the other officer… That was kind of freaky,” Martinez says. “I’m saying a lot of prayers for the police officers, of course, and for the family.”
“We ask the community for its prayers and support, we’re certainly going to need it,” Klett said on Sunday morning.
The alleged shooter was preliminarily identified as Alfredo Perez De La Cruz, 46. Police say De La Cruz died due to a self-inflicted wound, according to police.
During the press conference Klett said all three officers as well as De La Cruz were wearing body armor.
Investigators say De La Cruz may have operated under several different aliases. They are working to confirm his identity and criminal record.
Watch the full press conference below:
Officers closed the street from Reimer Avenue to McCarty Road, which is just west of Interstate Highway 35 as the incident was going on.
Photos viewers sent in of the scene showed numerous police units lined up in the area.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement calling the shooting a reminder of service and sacrifice by law enforcement.
“Tonight’s (Saturday’s) shooting in San Marcos is a somber reminder of the service and sacrifice our brave men and women in law enforcement make every day to keep us safe. I am grateful for the swift action of the San Marcos Police Department in containing the threat and minimizing the loss of life. I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the officer killed and for those injured, and for the continued safety of all law enforcement officers who protect our communities.”
The last officer killed from the San Marcos Police Department was Officer Kenneth Copeland, who was shot and killed while serving a warrant on Dec. 4, 2017.