An off-duty law enforcement officer was killed Wednesday while working a side job at a Houston shopping mall when a suspect grabbed his firearm and fatally shot him, authorities said. The suspect was later killed as well.
The gunfire occurred at the PlazAmericas Mall on the city's southwest side. San Jacinto County Precinct 1 Deputy Constable Neil Adams got into an altercation with a suspect just before 4 p.m., Houston police Chief Troy Finner told reporters.
During the confrontation, the suspect got ahold of Adams' weapon and shot him before fleeing toward the mall food court, the chief said. Soon after, responding Houston police officers encountered the suspect with a sharp object, possibly a knife, Finner said.
When he allegedly moved toward them, two officers opened fire. The suspect, only identified as a 35-year-old man, was taken to a hospital and died.
Adams went through the police academy in 2012 and worked as the county's environmental officer, San Jacinto County Constable Roy Rogers, who earlier confirmed the deputy's death to Fox News, told reporters outside the hospital.
"We lost one of our heroes," he said. "He worked hard to take care of his family and to take care of the constituents of our county."
The names of the Houston police officers who fired their weapons and the suspect's identity will be released at a later time, Finner said. He was not sure how many shots were fired.
The officers have been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation into the shooting.
In a tweet, Joe Gamaldi, a Houston police officer and president of the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, called violence against police officers "demoralizing and heartbreaking."
"The violence against officers in this country has reached critical mass and our communities are unrecognizable," he wrote.