HOUSTON – An attempt to serve a search warrant at a suspected drug house quickly turned into a gun battle that killed two suspects and injured five undercover narcotics officers, including four who were shot, Houston’s police chief said.
The suspects were killed Monday after the officers were fired on as they forced their way into the home on the city’s southeast side, Chief Art Acevedo said Monday just hours after the shooting. Four of the officers were shot and a fifth suffered a knee injury.
Acevedo said two officers were shot in the face and that one of them is expected to be discharged from the hospital Tuesday. Dr. Michelle McNutt, chief of trauma surgery at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, said the second is facing several facial trauma surgeries.
“We’re hopeful that they will recover,” Acevedo said Monday.
Acevedo told a news conference Tuesday that police knew black tar heroin was being sold at the property. He said officers found no heroin there Monday, but they recovered marijuana, an unidentified white powder and two rifles.
Two other officers, including the one with an injured knee, were stable at the hospital Tuesday. Another officer who was shot was released after being treated for a shoulder wound.
Acevedo said the names of the injured officers are not being released because they work undercover.
The chief said about a dozen officers with the Houston Police Department’s narcotics unit were attempting to serve a warrant when they forced open the home’s front door and immediately faced gunfire from one or two individuals. He said officers had received a tip from a neighbor that heroin was being sold there.
“Once the officers breached the door and the gunfire began from the suspects, one of the suspects actually retreated momentarily to the back of the room and then that suspect came back and again engaged the officers in gunfire,” Acevedo said.
One of the suspects, 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, was shot and killed as she tried to grab the service weapon of the first officer to be injured, Acevedo said. The second suspect killed was 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle, the chief said.
No information has been released about how many officers returned fire. After the gunfire ended, SWAT officers using two robots to determine if the property was safe to enter found the two suspects dead.
“This has been a tough day for our city,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Pray for (the injured officers) and pray for their families.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that the shooting was a “solemn reminder” of the service and sacrifices made by officers.
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