• October 21, 2019

Gun battle leaves 1 dead, 3 injured - Odessa American: Crime & Justice

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Gun battle leaves 1 dead, 3 injured

ECSO deputies were there to serve a warrant

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    Ector County Sheriff deputies hug in the ambulance entrance at Medical Center Hospital after three sheriff deputies were shot in the line of duty Monday night in North Odessa.

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Posted: Monday, January 14, 2019 9:40 am

Neighbors on Tuesday described a Monday night gunfight as sounding like “fireworks.” The gun battle in north Odessa left a man who opened fire on an Ector County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team dead and injured three deputies, who were all treated and released at Medical Center Hospital.

Ector County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety officials on Tuesday would not release the names of two men who were involved in the Monday night shooting. ECSO deputies Josh Pool, 28, Cody Smith, 26, and Ricky Rodriguez, 28, were all shot by the now dead gunman. The other man was taken into custody.

Pool is part of the special investigative unit, while Smith is a criminal investigation division investigator and Rodriguez is a reserve officer.

All three were treated and released from Medical Center Hospital less than four hours after being shot in the line of duty.

“It was a great relief to know their injuries weren’t as major as they could have been,” Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said via phone Tuesday afternoon. “When I first got the phone call, it was devastating news to me. Once I got to the hospital and saw the guys and I knew they were going to be OK, I don’t have words to describe my feelings.”

The three deputies were working as part of a SWAT team serving a search warrant for narcotics at 9:30 p.m. Monday at 7321 Kentucky Ave.

One of the suspects was killed during the shooting and another taken into custody and charged with failure to identify. Griffis said the suspects’ names could be released as early as Wednesday morning.

Bullet casings littered the ground in front of the trailer house, but ECSO spokesperson Sgt. Gary Duesler said the three deputies were each hit once. Pool and Rodriguez were each shot in the leg, while Smith had a bullet graze his lip. ECSO declined to say what type of firearm the gunman had.

Griffis said deputies fired into the trailer house after the gunman started shooting. The sheriff said it’s typical protocol for the SWAT team to enter the residence first during a search warrant and then be followed by deputies conducting the search.

“SWAT team will make entry then the actual search will begin,” Griffis said.

An investigation into the shooting is underway by the Texas Rangers, which is standard procedure, said DPS spokesperson Sgt. Oscar Villarreal. He said over the phone the Texas Rangers have been on the scene throughout Monday and Tuesday, but declined to comment further on the investigation.

Neighbors spoke about the incident Monday night and Tuesday morning.

James Hancock lives two doors down from the house where the shooting took place. He said he had spoken to both of the men who lived at the residence before, but didn’t know them very well.

“We heard a bunch of gunshots, that’s all we heard,” Hancock said. “I opened the front door and an officer told me to shut it.”

Hancock said he hadn’t seen anything like this on his street in some time. He said a boy living in the trailer next to him had been shot several years ago.

Dearl Flowers drives a wrecker for Odessa Wrecker Service, located in the 7300 block of Kentucky Avenue, but he couldn’t see anything last night.

“We’re on 24-hour call, but we couldn’t get in or out,” Flowers said. “They had it all blocked off.”

Flowers said he knew one of the drivers who lived on the street, who told him last night it just looked like “red lights everywhere.”

Frankie Arebalo lived in a trailer behind the residence where the shooting happened, but said she only heard the shots.

“It sounded like fireworks,” Arebalo said.

Griffis said the last time an ECSO deputy was shot in the line of the duty was in 2014 when Javier Leyva was shot in the leg.

Pool, Smith and Rodriguez have all been placed on workers compensation and Griffis explained the three deputies will stay on that program until they are released by their respective doctors. Griffis said each will likely be on alternative duty until they are cleared to go back to work.

“Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later,” Griffis added.

The local agencies that responded to the officer-involved shooting included ECSO, Odessa Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Midland County Sheriff’s Office, University of Texas Permian Basin Police, Ector County Independent School District Police, and Odessa College Campus Police.

OPD spokesperson Cpl. Steve LeSueur said 26 officers and five crime scene technicians responded to the shooting.

“We got agencies from all over the area,” Griffis said late Monday night. “It’s very much appreciated.”

At 1:02 a.m. Tuesday morning, the local agencies initially thought a third suspect was involved in a high-speed chase that lasted 44 minutes. Duesler said Tuesday afternoon it was a completely separate incident. The vehicle was in a location known for narcotic sales and distribution and the driver was arrested and charged after cocaine, marijuana and marijuana oils and wax were located in the trunk of the vehicle. Three deputies involved in a shooting in north Odessa Monday night were all listed in fair condition and later released from the hospital, but the sheriff’s office is still looking for a third possible suspect who may be still at large. 

The deputies, working as part of a SWAT team, were serving a narcotics search warrant at about 9:30 p.m. Monday in the 7300 block of Kentucky Avenue, near Shlemeyer Field, when the shooting began, Sheriff Mike Griffis said. 

When the deputies entered, the suspect of the search warrant opened fire and officers returned fire. Griffis said there was one person killed in the residence that may be their suspect. Another was taken into custody, who Griffis said he believed was not shot during the incident, and a third possible suspect is at large.

“We really have not confirmed that,” Griffis said about a third suspect. “Upon myself getting out there, we think there might have been a third individual in there. We haven’t confirmed that. We have a perimeter set up and we are looking for that possible third person just to make sure.”

Griffis said they have not confirmed there was a third person, but they were searching the area just in case and K-9 units had been deployed. 

Two of the deputies were shot in the leg and one was “grazed in the mouth,” the sheriff said. 

“It’s the greatest news ever,” Griffis said. “The good lord looked down after us tonight. It sure could have been way worse. The injuries those guys sustained is very minor compared to what it could have been.

“All I can say is the good lord above us is looking down after us.”

Odessa Police Department and Texas Rangers were assisting with the investigation. Griffis said he was unsure if any drugs had been recovered, but after the shooting took place, their officers vacated the residence and set up a perimeter. 

The sheriff’s office is now waiting for another warrant to re-enter and re-search the home. 

About 30 to 40 officers were estimated to be on scene following the shooting and Griffis said at about 11:30 p.m. he expected they’d be there for three to four more hours. 

Robert Ciccone, a man who lives in the neighborhood on Alabama Street, between Florida Avenue and Kentucky Avenue, said he just moved to Odessa six months ago from Lubbock and the shooting didn’t surprise him.

“I knew they were doing drug raids around here … There are some here, there are some down the road on Florida (Avenue),” Ciccone said. “This isn’t the area that you want your kids walking around in at night.”


ORIGINAL STORY

Three deputies are being treated at the hospital after a shooting in North Odessa on Monday night while trying to serve a search warrant.

The shooting happened around 9:45 p.m. near Golder Avenue and Yukon Road near Schlemeyer Field, Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said.

The sheriff’s office is searching for one of the suspects, who is still at large, but has confirmed one person has died and another is in custody.

The three deputies should all be OK, Griffis said. Two of the deputies were shot in the leg and one in the mouth.

Medical Center Hospital spokesperson Rhonda Lewallen said Monday night all three deputies were in fair condition. 

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