STAFFORD, Texas — The close-range shooting of a Stafford police officer began just after 3:30 a.m. Saturday when she happened upon a strange sight: A four-door sedan idling at a green light with its turn signal blinking.
After nearly an entire go-cycle, Officer Ann Carrizales followed the Nissan from the 12700 block of Murphy Road to a nearby mobile home park, where she pulled the car over.
She approached the vehicle with three men inside and began "asking if they were OK, if they needed anything," according to Stafford Police Department Chief Bonny Krahn. "He responded that they were on their way home from work."
Then the front-seat passenger leaned over and began began shooting at Carrizales, striking her in the face and chest. She fired back, but the car sped away.
Despite her injuries, the former Marine police officer notified dispatch that she had been shot, returned to her cruiser and pursued the vehicle for more than four miles.
The car chase ended in southwest Houston's Club Creek neighborhood near Green Fork and Concourse Drive when the vehicle stopped and at least two of the occupants fled on foot. By that time, officers from Missouri City, Sugar Land, Houston and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on their way.
Suspect found walking
A team of law enforcement officials set up a perimeter and began looking for the three men. The suspected shooter, 21-year-old Sergio Francisco Rodriguez, was discovered walking in the area. He has been detained and charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer.
A warrant has been issued for the suspected driver, 28-year-old Freddy Henriquez. Both men are Honduran nationals believed to be in the country without documentation. The other passenger has not been identified or apprehended, said Lt. Dustin Claborn, a Stafford police spokesman.
Carrizales, who had surgery on Saturday, was in stable condition and resting comfortably, according to Stafford city officials.
"Her ballistic vest, we do believe, saved her life," Claborn said, adding that "there was some minor penetration" that caused damage.
She has received stitches for a "pretty serious injury" to her face, he added, but "she's going to be OK."
A plastic surgeon tended to the officer's facial wounds, according to Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella.
'Very gutsy lady'
He visited Carrizales on Saturday around noon and said she was "in the bed and talking and in good spirits," adding that the officer's husband was at her bedside. "I'm very thrilled that it wasn't any more serious than it was. She's a very fortunate lady and very gutsy lady. ... The way she handled herself was not only exemplary but inspiring."
Carrizales, 40, joined the Stafford Police Department in August 2010. She is a former U.S. Marine Corps military police officer.
This is not the first time Carrizales has been injured in the line of duty.
Last October, Carrizales was among a group of officers tying up the loose ends at a party where gunfire erupted when a man drove up in an SUV and asked about the incident. During the exchange, "the subject got very threatening, U-turned the vehicle and started coming toward the officers," Claborn said.
Carrizales and another officer tried again to talk to the man, but had their arms pinned inside the SUV when the driver rolled up the window and the vehicle surged forward. Both officers were dragged several feet. As the driver slammed on his brakes, the window shattered and Carrizales was thrown to the front of the truck.
She fired her weapon at that driver after he appeared to be attempting to run over her.
After that incident, Carrizales and the other officer had to have glass removed from their eyes. They also sustained cuts, bruises and scrapes.