Crime

Denton officer shot in head improving but has ‘long road to recovery,’ police say

Denton police Officer Urbano Rodriguez Jr. is alert and recovering at a gradual pace more than a week after he was shot in the head and the leg during a traffic stop, police announced Wednesday evening in a news release.

The five-year veteran still has “a long road to recovery,” Officer Allison Vetere, a police spokesperson, said in the release.

Rodriguez was critically injured in the shooting early Oct. 29 on West University Drive in Denton and taken to Medical City Denton, where he underwent surgery. He came out of the operation in critical but stable condition, police have said, and has been becoming more responsive as he recovers from his serious injuries.

The shooting, which resulted in the arrests of two people who were in the stopped car, left people from the Denton community and beyond rooting for the officer’s full recovery.

The police department “deeply appreciates all of you,” Vetere said.

“Many of you have continued to check in on our injured officer’s well-being,” she said. “Officer Rodriguez is in stable condition. He is now alert, and is showing signs of improvement every day.”

His condition, Vetere said, “is not something that is likely to dramatically change in the upcoming days or weeks.”

Police plan to announce significant health updates as they occur throughout what could be a long recovery process.

Rodriguez was shot in the moments after Officer Randy Cole, a rookie, arrived to back him up, police have said. Cole returned fire at the man and woman inside the vehicle Rodriguez had stopped for a defective equipment violation and expired registration.

A passenger, Antwon Pinkston, 33, and the driver, Michele Stacey, 44, were each shot in the arm and fled the scene, police said. Carrollton and Farmers Branch officers eventually tracked the pair down at a gas station at Luna Road and Valley View Lane in Carrollton.

They were taken to a hospital for treatment and then booked into Denton County Jail, police said.

Pinkston, the suspected shooter, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer and his bond was set at $5 million. Stacey was arrested on a parole violation, though more charges were possible.

The Texas Rangers are leading the investigation into the shooting.

An additional charge has been brought against Pinkston as a result of the investigation, according to a statement from the Rangers. He was charged with aggravated assault of a public servant.

No other information is available and the investigation is ongoing, the Rangers said in the statement.

A fundraiser benefiting Rodriguez and his family was held Wednesday morning at two Denton locations, BJ’s Brewhouse and Bone Daddy’s, Police Chief Frank Dixon said on Twitter. He thanked local residents.

“The support from the entire Metroplex community has been nothing short of incredible,” Dixon said.

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Jack Howland is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. Before coming to the Star-Telegram in May 2019, he worked for two and a half years as a breaking news reporter at the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York. He’s a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
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