AUSTIN, Texas – A police officer was shot and killed early Friday at a Walmart in Central Texas, and a suspect is in custody, police said.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the officer was shot in the neck and died at the scene. The department identified him as Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron and said he had two daughters, ages 10 and six.
Padron was responding to a call about a drunk man inside the store around 2:30 a.m., Acevedo said. The suspect attacked the officer as soon as he arrived at the store and Padron didn't have a chance to even pull out his own weapon.
"The suspect produced a semi-automatic pistol and shot the officer at point blank range," Acevedo said. The wounded officer was able to call for help using his police radio, he added.
The police chief declined to identify the suspect, who was being held at the Travis County jail.
"This was a routine call," Acevedo said. "What makes our job deadly is that there is no routine call."
Two Walmart employees tackled and held the suspect and locked down the store until another police officer arrived to arrest him. Acevedo praised their actions, saying they did all they were supposed to do. He said store video captured the entire incident.
"I am heartened that two brave souls took action. They tackled the suspect when they saw the officer was shot unprovoked," Acevedo said. Once the suspect was handcuffed, another officer gave Padron CPR and medics tried to revive him, but they pronounced the officer dead at 2:44 a.m.
Acevedo said Padron worked at the department for more than three years and had previously worked for the Austin airport police and the San Angelo police department.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Dianna Gee expressed sympathy for the officer's family and colleagues, and said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is proud of staff at the store.
"The associates displayed courage under these extreme circumstances," Gee said. She declined to provide more details about the shooting, referring questions to the police.
Austin city manager Chris Ott lamented the officer's death.
"It is a sad day for the city of Austin to lose a member of our family," Ott said.
Pedro Garcia and his roommate, Sapna Sharma, who live in the suburb of Pflugerville, told the Austin American-Statesman they were grocery shopping at the back of the store when they heard gunfire.
"I felt like something fell really hard," Sharma said.
They said an employee told them there had been a shooting and that more than a dozen officers swarmed into the store.