(Reuters) – A Texas state trooper was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Thanksgiving Day, leading to a manhunt and further gunfire some 125 miles (200 km) away, where the suspect was arrested.
The fatal shooting took place on Thursday in Fairfield, about 90 miles (145 km) south of Dallas, where highway patrol trooper Damon Allen had stopped the suspect for a traffic violation and made contact with the driver, a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) spokesman said.
When Allen returned to his patrol car, the suspect fired multiple times with a rifle, killing the trooper at the scene, Lieutenant Lonny Haschel said in a statement.
Allen, 41, was a husband and father of three who joined the department in 2002, the department said.
“Our DPS family is heartbroken tonight after one of Texas’ finest law enforcement officers was killed in the line of duty,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a statement.
“Trooper Allen’s dedication to duty, and his bravery and selfless sacrifice on this Thanksgiving Day, will never be forgotten,” McCraw said.
The suspect, identified as Dabrett Black, 32, was arrested in Waller County, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, after unspecified shots had been fired, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook.
DPS officials said they would file capital murder charges against Black, meaning prosecutors could potentially seek the death penalty in a state that has executed 518 people in the past 38 years.
In Waller County, sheriff’s deputies and a Texas DPS helicopter pursued the suspect, the sheriff’s office said.
At one point the suspect abandoned his car and deputies surrounded him near the town of Prairie View, according to a live police radio dispatch carried on broadcastify.com.
Deputies described their pursuit using night-vision goggles and lasers to pinpoint his position.
“He’s moving between the hay bails. He has good cover. He has good concealment,” one officer said.
They were uncertain whether he was still armed with a rifle and maintained a perimeter until a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team could arrive, according to the police radio.
“We got this guy. We’ve got eyeballs on him. Let’s take our time and get him on our terms, not on his terms,” another officer said.
Deputies then went to radio silence as they moved in for the arrest, a silence that was broken by, “Can we confirm one in custody?”
“One in custody,” came the reply.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney and Richard Borsuk