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Officer Down: Police Officer Henry Canales

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June 23, 2009

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Officer Down: Police Officer Henry Canales

Officer Down: Police Officer Henry Canales - [Houston, Texas]

Age: 42

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Officer Henry Canales was shot and killed while conducting an undercover investigation into the sale of stolen televisions.

He and another officer were meeting with a group of suspects in a drug store parking lot. As money was exchanged one of the suspects opened fire, fatally wounding Officer Canales. Another officer returned fire, killing the suspect. The three other suspects fled but were apprehended a short time later.

Officer Canales had served with the Houston Police Department for 16 years. He is survived by a wife, son and daughter.

Undercover Houston police officer, suspect killed

By Cindy George and Mike GLenn
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — An undercover Houston police officer was killed Tuesday night in a shootout with a man killed moments later by another officer, officials said.

The officer was identified as 42-year-old Henry Canales. He joined the Houston Police Department in 1993. The identity of the other man was not available.

Canales was part of an undercover team investigating stolen televisions when he was shot in the parking lot of a Walgreens drugstore at Hillcroft and Bellaire, officials said.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt described Canales as dedicated.

"He was not only an outstanding officer but an outstanding individual," Hurtt said early this morning outside of Ben Taub General Hospital, where Canales was taken after he was shot and later pronounced dead.

"He cared a lot about the people that he worked with," Hurtt said. "He cared a lot about the citizens of the city of Houston. And, he was a hero to his family."

At about 9 p.m. Tuesday, four people had contacted undercover officers and asked to buy stolen televisions, according to Houston police spokesman Victor Senties. The officers arranged to meet the potential buyers at the parking lot of the southwest Houston drugstore.

"At some point, the transaction was made and the money was exchanged," Senties said.

After the transaction, Canales walked around to the front of a Budget rental truck parked on the lot. The buyer followed him and then pulled out a pistol, Senties said.

"There’s an exchange of gunfire, and the undercover officer drops to the ground," Senties said. Canales was shot once.

The buyer went to the back of the truck and fell to the ground.

A second undercover officer, identified as R. Lopez, ran up and tried to take the buyer into custody, Senties said. At some point at least one of his hands was handcuffed.

The man reached back and fired at least twice at Lopez, Senties said.

Lopez, who was not hit, fired his weapon at least once toward the man. The man died at the scene, Senties said.

Three others, including one female, who were with the buyer left in a van. Police pursued and stopped them at the Southwest Freeway and Bellaire.

Lt. Scott Dombrowski, who is with the department’s auto theft division and was in charge of the operation, said the area was targeted because of the high amount of crime.

He visited with Canales before the shooting.

"We talk about everything (before deploying an operation)," Dombrowski said. "When we’re done with an operation, we critique that operation; it just doesn’t always go as planned."

The lieutenant said he’s known Canales for a number of years.

"Henry was a good man," Dombrowski said. "Dedicated. Loving family. Loved his job. He loved what he did and he was very good at it."

Canales worked in the auto theft division for seven years and before that was with northeast patrol for seven years.

"This is probably the most difficult time of any chief’s tenure: when we lose one of our officers in the line of duty and then have to share in the grief of the family, loved ones and other members of our organization," Hurtt said.

Canales leaves behind a wife, a 15-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter.

The last Houston police officer to die in the line of duty was Timothy Abernethy. He was killed on Dec. 7

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