HOUSTON – Four people police say were involved in the fatal shooting of a Houston police officer this week are illegal immigrants and have multiple aliases that are complicating the investigation.
Two suspects are charged with capital murder in the slaying of 42-year-old Officer Henry Canales. He was working undercover on a stolen property sting operation when he was gunned down Tuesday night. The alleged shooter was shot and killed by police; three other suspects were caught a short time later.
Andres Maldonado Nava, 41, had at least eight aliases and multiple arrests in California, authorities said Thursday. Robert Pedroza Carrillo, 37, who was killed in the gunfire, had three aliases. Both men are from Mexico.
Xiomara Rosales Mendez, 36, of Honduras, also is charged, along with a Mexican-born female authorities said is claiming to be a juvenile.
Each of the suspects has sought legal help from their consulates, officials said.
Conviction on the capital murder charge carries a penalty of life in prison or death. Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said it was too early to say if prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
"The investigation has been made a little more difficult because of the difficulty in ascertaining the true identity of the suspects," said Harris County prosecutor Julian Ramirez. "Each one of them has used multiple names. Officers have to contend with that as they attempt to find out the true history of the suspects."
Homicide Capt. Steve Jett said Carrillo was arrested by the Border Patrol in El Paso in 1997, went before an immigration judge and was returned to Mexico. It's not certain how long he'd been in Houston. When he was arrested in El Paso, he gave the name of Bernardo Diaz Ruiz.
Maldonado Nava had multiple arrests in California under at least eight names. Among the arrests were attempted murder, robbery, assault, theft, drugs and firearms violations.
Officials said Canales, a 16-year police veteran, was shot as Carrillo attempted to hijack a truck that contained televisions that was used as bait by undercover officers working a sting operation targeting groups selling and buying large amounts of stolen merchandise.
"They came with money and they were interested and they wanted to purchase goods that we told them were stolen," police Lt. Scott Dombrowski said. "At that point, things went horribly wrong and became tragic."
The two adult suspects were set for an initial court appearance Friday.
Canales' funeral was set for Monday.