By David G. Palacio, Michelle Casady, and Drew Joseph
San Antonio Express-News
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A San Antonio police officer was in stable condition late Monday after being shot in the head by a man who then locked himself in a downtown motel room for nine hours before surrendering to police, officials said.
The officer, Aaron Terrazas, 34, an eight-year veteran of the department, was recovering in the intensive care unit at San Antonio Military Medical Center.
Terrazas was shot after he and other officers responded to a disturbance between a man and a woman at the Super 8 at 1614 N. St. Mary's St. just before 8 a.m. Monday, police said.
The shooting suspect was identified by his wife in a KABB interview as Melvin McKinney, 38. A warrant for aggravated assault of a public servant was issued Monday for a man of the same name and age.
McKinney fired at least one shot through the door before opening it and firing several more times, striking Terrazas, Police Chief William McManus said.
"I wouldn't call it a graze," McManus said. "It's a serious wound."
The standoff snarled traffic in the area, with the roads surrounding the motel closed and portions of Interstate 35 between Interstates 10 and 37 shut down most of the day. The nearby Central Catholic and Providence high schools were put on temporary lockdown.
McKinney surrendered about 5 p.m. He apparently was posting on his Facebook page during the standoff, writing, "THIS [EXPLETIVE] IS KRAZY" around 1 p.m. He later posted, "I LOVE ALL Y'ALL BUT THIS IS SOMETHING I HAVE TO DO ... #LOSTWITHNORETURN."
McKinney was charged in the past with drug possession and there was a warrant for him for an assault incident in March.
No one else was injured during the standoff. Police were initially unsure whether someone else was in the first-floor motel room with McKinney, but he was alone when he gave himself up. Police found a handgun after he surrendered.
"This came to the conclusion that we wanted it to," McManus said, noting that the suspect was not hurt.
Terrazas remained conscious after he was shot, McManus said. An off-duty officer who was nearby heard the gunshot on his radio, went to the motel and took Terrazas to a nearby hospital. He was then transferred to SAMMC, which has a top-level trauma center.
Fifteen to 20 police units and at least one EMS unit converged at the motel Monday morning. At least 12 police cars lined North St. Mary's, and SWAT officers wearing protective vests surrounded the motel, a two-story building not far from I-35.
McManus said negotiators were in "sporadic contact" throughout the day with McKinney, who did not give police much information. Relatives of McKinney came to the scene, but McManus said McKinney did not try to communicate with them.
Just before noon, friends began posting words of encouragement on a Facebook page that appeared to belong to the wounded officer.
"Stay strong," read one message. "I'm praying for a full recovery and thanking The Lord you are okay," read another.
According to information listed on the page, Terrazas is a longtime resident of San Antonio and a graduate of Edison High School who studied kinesiology at St. Philip's College.
He appears to have served as a Marine from 1998 until 2002, reaching the rank of corporal.
Terrazas' shooting is the fourth time this year that an officer or deputy has been shot in the line of duty.
"These are always very stark reminders of how dangerous police work can be," McManus said during the standoff.
In June, SAPD Officer Christopher Johnson was shot in the leg while responding to a disturbance in the 5100 block of Galahad.
In February, two Bexar County deputies were wounded on the job.
On Feb. 22, Deputy Manuel Herrera was shot by a man who stole his Chevrolet Tahoe and sparked a multiagency chase that ended with the suspect shooting himself in the head. The suspect, who died, also had been shot by police.
On Feb. 5, Deputy Jose Esquivel was shot twice in the arms as he tried to serve a warrant. Esquivel was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time.
At the motel, guests in harm's way were relocated to other rooms during the standoff. Indi Gargasz, 20, and Kenzie Hudgins, 21, both hairstylists from Durant, Okla., in town for a convention, said police went door to door at the motel, telling people to stay in their rooms. Some were taken to the motel office to give statements to police.
Emilio Lara, 35, an event planner visiting from Houston, said he left the motel and was not allowed back to his room.
Terrazas is one of two officers who were suspended by McManus in August 2010 for what was described as "a pattern of inappropriate behavior and harassment" toward a female officer.
McManus issued an indefinite suspension for Terrazas and a 60-day suspension for his counterpart.
Terrazas appealed his punishment. Police didn't return calls as to when he was reinstated.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 the San Antonio Express-News