A Fort Worth police officer shot a burglary suspect he had been trying to handcuff when the man charged Wednesday night at the officer in the front yard of a house on the city’s south side, the police department said.
Esteban Vasquez, 27, was shot in the upper torso and was in critical condition at a hospital on Thursday, police said.
The officer was at the house near Rickee Drive and Fair Park Boulevard because a person reported to 911 that a man was breaking into it, said Officer Jimmy Pollozani, a police spokesman.
The person who reported the burglary attempt about 8:45 p.m. told a 911 call taker that the suspect was armed with a gun and a knife and was threatening the person with both, Pollozani said.
In their encounter outside the house, Vasquez was agitated and unyielding, according to the police account. He said he was not going to jail.
The shooting followed a foiled attempt to stun Vasquez. The officer deployed a taser, Pollozani said, but Vasquez removed wires from its probes.
Vasquez stood and charged, Pollozani said. The officer opened fire.
The officer who shot Vasquez was the only officer present at that time. Others were driving to the house. Vasquez is “significantly larger” than the officer, the department said. It did not release the height and weight of either man, and it declined to release the officer’s name. He has been employed by the department for two years.
Police recovered knives at the scene, Pollozani said.
In Tarrant County court records connected to an April 2018 case in which Vasquez was charged with assaulting a relative, his address was in the 4900 block of Rickee Drive and at the same house where he was shot. Police declined to describe the relationship between Vasquez and the house.
Vasquez will face charges of aggravated assault of a family member, assault of a family member, reckless damage and destruction, police said.
Officers involved in three shootings this week
The Rickee Drive encounter was the second time in four days that a Fort Worth police officer shot a person.
On Saturday, a SWAT officer fatally shot a disturbed man who had been barricaded in his Fort Worth house after pointing a gun at officers. After coming back out the front door, Cody Seals stood in what police described as a shooting stance, with both arms out in front of him while holding an object that looked like a weapon-mounted lighting system, police have said. Police later determined the object Seals held was a flashlight.
The officers involved in the shootings will be on administrative leave until the department’s investigations are complete, which is its standard procedure.
In a separate incident, a Fort Worth officer also fired shots Wednesday evening during the arrest of a murder suspect. No one was injured.
Martin Wilson, 30, had been wanted in connection with the killing of his uncle, James Wilson Sr., 74, of Forest Hill. An officer engaged with Wilson near Burchill Road and McKenzie Street and fired upon him, police said. No one was struck by the rounds. Three people were taken into custody, including Martin Wilson.
‘This used to be a quiet block’
Neighbors came out to their front yards after the Rickee Drive shooting, talking to each other and trying to make sense of what had happened.
Corey Collins, a 44-year-old Rickee Drive neighbor, said on Thursday morning that he heard a shot the previous night as he and his 8-year-old son moved furniture from the back yard to a garage in anticipation of rain. He thought it was a neighbor’s lawnmower backfiring, he said, until he walked to the front yard and began talking to neighbors.
“I just thought it was a man that was cutting his yard. It sounded like a backfire to the lawnmower — and it just stopped,” Collins said outside of his home. “That’s all I heard.”
His sister, who was with him and his son at the time, had heard people arguing about 15 to 20 minutes earlier from the direction of where the shooting occurred, he said. Neighbors also heard this, he said, but he did not know who was arguing.
Collins, who moved into his house in 1974, said the neighborhood is filled with residents who have lived in their homes for 30-plus years, and his street was previously placid.
“This block used to be one of the quietest blocks in the neighborhood,” Collins said. “Everybody else pretty much watch out for everybody else.”
Joe Nealy, 71, who lives on nearby Fair Park Boulevard, said he didn’t hear about the shooting until a neighbor knocked on his front door.
He peered through a screen to watch the suspect being loaded into an ambulance.