October 18, 2023 – In Breaking News – THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A Texas police officer was fatally shot after joining a lengthy chase of two men who fled a traffic stop, switched cars, and raced through several cities near the U.S.-Mexico border before they were finally caught hours later, authorities said Wednesday.
Lt. Milton Resendez of the San Benito Police Department was pronounced dead at a hospital after a bullet went through the door of his patrol car and struck him in the abdomen just below his body armor, Chief Mario Perea told reporters.
Perea did not say which of the suspects shot Resendez, and he said they didn’t know how many rounds were fired.
Earlier in the pursuit, before Resendez was shot, the suspects had exchanged gunfire with another group of officers who were not injured, authorities said.
(Lt. Milton Resendez was a 27-year veteran of the San Benito Police Department. Courtesy of CBS 4 News Rio Grande Valley and YouTube. Posted on Oct 20, 2023.)
“He cared about everyone. He got along with everyone,” Perea said of Resendez, who had spent about 30 years as a police officer.
The two suspects — Rogelio Martinez Jr., 18, of Brownsville, and Rodrigo Axel Espinosa Valdez, 23, of Mexico — are facing multiple charges, including capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and evading arrest, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said.
Online jail records do not list attorneys who can speak on their behalf.
Saenz said the pursuit began around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on South Padre Island when a truck carrying the two men, two women, and two small children was pulled over for speeding on the beach.
As the driver was being questioned outside of the truck, a passenger started the truck, the driver jumped into the bed, and they sped off, he said.
At one point, the two women and the children got out of the vehicle, Saenz said. The women were detained and questioned.
Saenz said that after the men were pursued into Brownsville, an exchange of gunfire made officers stand back and lose sight of the truck.
“Hearts across Texas grieve with the family and loved ones of the San Benito Police Officer whose life was tragically taken while protecting his fellow Texans,” shared Governor Greg Abbott.
“This senseless act is a solemn reminder of the selfless risks our law enforcement officers take every single day when they put on the badge.“
“I thank the Texas Department of Public Safety, the San Benito Police Department, and all law enforcement involved in the swift apprehension and arrest of the criminals so justice can be served.“
“Please join Cecilia and me in praying for this brave hero’s family and the entire San Benito community during this heartbreaking time.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Lt. Milton Resendez, both blood and blue.
You have our deepest gratitude and respect for your bravery and commitment to serving the citizens of Texas with pride and distinction.