A 19-year-old man is in jail, accused of shooting up an unoccupied Fort Worth patrol vehicle.
Luis Felipe Gallegos of Lake Worth is also a suspect in two similar shootings — one involving another Fort Worth patrol car and the other, a state highway trooper’s patrol car from which an AR-15 rifle was stolen.
“All police officers know that this profession is a 24/7 job; in fact we are bound by law to act in certain cases even if we are ‘off-duty,’ ” said Cpl. Tracey Knight, a police spokeswoman. “However, this is a powerful reminder that we must always be vigilant against those that have so little regard for the law.”
Gallegos was arrested late Thursday night on suspicion of deadly conduct/discharging a firearm, a third-degree felony. He remained in the Mansfield Jail on Monday with bail set at $3,000.
Fort Worth police say the motive behind the shootings remained unknown Monday. The two Fort Worth officers whose cars were shot work in different parts of the department, officials said.
The three shootings occurred between June 14 and Wednesday — two in Fort Worth and one in Lake Worth. No one was injured.
In the most recent shooting, in Lake Worth, one of the bullets traveled through a garage and into a residence. Investigators believe, however, that the house was hit by a stray bullet intended to hit the Chevrolet Tahoe patrol unit.
Police would not confirm that the shootings occurred outside the officers’ homes, saying only that the vehicles had been parked at “authorized nonpolice locations” and that the officers were off-duty.
The Department of Public Safety trooper reported June 15 that his patrol car had been broken into while parked in Fort Worth. Knight said that the window was smashed in and that the car was shot multiple times. Police believe that the theft and shooting occurred the previous night or early that morning.
Knight said police found the AR-15 on Thursday.
“Thanks to the hard work, diligence and investigative skills of our Homeland Security Unit, Criminal Tracking Unit, Crime Scene officers and patrol, we were able to recover the AR-15 within a few days of the theft,” she said.
“The weapon was recovered at a residence that is not connected with the suspect in custody; however, we do have a person of interest that our officers and detectives are investigating.”
Police said multiple weapons were used in the shootings, including an AR-15, but they are still investigating whether the stolen AR-15 was used.
Police say Gallegos was arrested after investigators developed information about a suspect vehicle and found a green Ford F-150 pickup that matched the description.
“The driver/owner of the vehicle was identified and further investigation developed probable cause for his arrest,” Knight told the Star-Telegram.
Sgt. Lonny Haschel, a DPS spokesman, confirmed that the agency has begun an investigation to make sure policies and procedures were followed by the trooper whose AR-15 was stolen. Haschel referred all other questions to Fort Worth police, who are handling the investigation of the theft.
According to Tarrant County court records, Gallegos was sentenced in February to three years of deferred adjudication for possessing less than a gram of methamphetamine.
In March, he was charged with theft of property stemming from allegations that he and another teen tried to shoplift watches and clothing March 9 from the Sears store at Ridgmar mall in Fort Worth.
Knight said Monday that “more charges are expected and possibly more arrests will be forthcoming.”