12/18/2006

Houston man with knife is fatally shot by police

By Lindsay Wise, Jennifer Leahy, Staff
The Houston Chronicle

A knife-wielding man was fatally wounded by two officers who opened fire on him as police said he held his ex-wife hostage in a southeast Houston apartment Friday.

The unidentified man was shot shortly after 5:45 p.m at the Wesley Square apartment complex at 7402 Calhoun. Neighbors at the complex had called police after hearing a dispute at the residence, said Officer Gabe Ortiz, a Houston Police Department spokesman.

When officers arrived, Ortiz said they were met by an off-duty officer, who was working a security detail at the complex.

The off-duty officer reported hearing a woman scream, "Don't stab me! Don't stab me!" in the moments before the squad car arrived, Ortiz said.

At this point, the officers walked to the apartment and tried to communicate with the man and woman inside.

The officers then heard the man say, "If you come inside, you're dead!" The woman then told police that she was injured and could not come to the door, Ortiz said.

The officers then contacted a supervisor, who called for the SWAT team.

While officers waited for backup, Ortiz said the woman repeatedly pleaded with the man not to stab her.

Officers heard the fight moving toward the back of the apartment. The officers decided to force their way into the apartment because they thought the woman's life was in danger.

When they entered, they saw the man holding a knife over the woman's head. With guns drawn, Ortiz said the officers ordered the man multiple times to drop his weapon.

Instead, the man turned and rushed at the officers, who opened fire, Ortiz said.

The man was shot in the chest and stomach and transported to Ben Taub Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, Ortiz said.

Police said the woman had bite marks on her face and hands, and a cut on her right hand.

Police said the man and woman, although divorced, were living together.

The names of the officers were not released but Ortiz said both were veteran officers. One officer has worked on the force for 12 years, the second officer, a police sergeant, has six years of service. Friday was the first time they were forced to open fire on a man in the line of duty, Ortiz said.

Both will be placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, as is department policy, Ortiz said.

Copyright 2006 The Houston Chronicle Publishing Company
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