TEXAS CITY — A SWAT standoff as police tried to arrest a Harris County murder suspect ended after two hours with the primary suspect dead and his girlfriend in custody.
Police surrounded an apartment building at the Windsor Estate apartments, 2801 FM 2004, where a murder suspect was holed up with his girlfriend.
The standoff began when Texas City police assisted members of the regional violent crimes task force in the arrest at about 10 a.m. The suspects refused to come out and SWAT was called, Stanton said. Police evacuated residents from nearby apartment units.
Flash grenades, gas used
After a two-hour standoff, negotiations to convince the couple to come out failed so Texas City SWAT used two flash-bang grenades and tear gas, Texas City Police Capt. Joe Stanton said.
Soon after, the girlfriend came out of a room and was taken into custody.
Wearing a blue sweatshirt and sweatpants, she was crying as police and EMS staff attended to her outside the apartment building. They also handcuffed and searched her.
Police first indicated the woman might have been a hostage, but Stanton said she was wanted on a charge of credit card abuse and that she was “actively involved,” in the standoff.
She allegedly used credit cards issued to the murder victim, police said.
Suspect found hanged
About 10 minutes later, there were two more bangs, and police used more gas, Police Chief Robert Burby said.
Police stormed a back bedroom where the man was barricaded. They found the man in the closet with a noose around his neck, police said.
Soon after, police carried the nude body of a man out. EMS staff tried to revive him but he died at the scene, Stanton said.
The names of the woman and man were not released. Harris County Sheriff’s Office officials did not respond to requests for information.
The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office was expected Wednesday to send the man’s fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety for a positive identification. The office would also attempt to notify a relative of his death, John Florence, a spokesman for the office, said.
Victim buried under chicken coop
The male suspect was wanted in connection to the murder of car salesman Jesus Leal Valdez, 41, who was found buried 2 feet beneath a chicken coop in the 5200 block of Mohawk St. in Harris County during the weekend.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences listed Leal-Valdez’s death as a homicide. He died of multiple sharp and blunt-force injuries. His place of death is listed as a backyard of a residence in Houston.
Valdez was last seen New Year’s Eve on his way to show a woman a truck he was selling, his family told KHOU-11 News. A woman was seen on surveillance cameras at several places using Valdez’s debit card and leaving in a maroon SUV, according to KHOU.
Wednesday was the second attempt police made to make the arrests. Stanton said officers were at the same apartment two days ago to serve the arrests warrants, but the couple wasn’t home.
The standoff interrupted what residents said was usually a quiet apartment complex on the city’s far west side near Interstate 45.
“Most of the time it is real quiet out here,” said Lane Walker, who lives two buildings over from where the standoff happened.
He was headed out for work when he saw the police first move in.
“I (saw) these armed guys with M-16s and wearing helmets and was pretty freaked out,” Walker said.
Mike Clemons of Cypress drove down to pick up his father-in-law when police cars greeted him. He was on one side of the complex, blocked in by police, while his father-in-law waited the situation out in an apartment on the other side.
“It’s not what I expected to see when I got here,” he said. “At first I was like, ‘Ok, what else could go wrong today. ‘But what can you do? I am stuck until it’s all over.”
Welcome to Texas City
Larry Huckins and his wife moved to Texas City from Midland, Mich., on Friday. The standoff was not what he bargained for when he moved to Galveston County.
“I walked around the corner and saw all the cops and went ‘whoa,’” Huckins said as he watched the standoff take place about 50 yards away.
Danielle Spurlock, a nursing student at College of the Mainland, said a friend called her to say there was something happening at her apartment complex.
“I came home from school and couldn’t get to my apartment,” Spurlock said. “The (police) had everything blocked off. I had to park on the other side of the complex and walk to my apartment (about 200 feet from the standoff).”
Like about two dozen other residents, Spurlock stuck around until the standoff was over. As police carried the male suspect out, many of the residents clapped in salute to the work by the officers.
Daily News reporter Chris Paschenko contributed to this report.