The perpetrator of a recent fatal shooting in Dallas is allegedly an unlawful migrant who has been deported nine times previously.
New information was released Monday about Juan Vicente Zavala Lopez, 45, who was arrested on charges of murder, aggravated assault, and aggravated assault of a peace officer last week after an hourslong manhunt.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia held a press conference on September 18, during which he disclosed that Zavala Lopez was an unlawful migrant who had been deported nine different times, according to NBC 5 DFW.
As extensively covered in The Dallas Express, security at the southern border continues to be a fiercely contentious topic.
For instance, some tactics deployed as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star have come under both public and judicial scrutiny, with a federal judge in Austin recently ruling that the floating buoys from the Rio Grande be removed. A subsequent injunction has since allowed the barriers to stay indefinitely.
Amid his apparent unlawful entries into the U.S., Zavala Lopez built up a criminal history on American soil, including convictions and indictments in Texas and California. He allegedly shot his roommate Ruperto Mondragon Salgado to death last Thursday.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, the incident occurred in the afternoon of September 14, with Officers Derek Williams and Christopher Mazin being called to First Stop liquor store on 4847 Scyene Rd. at about 1:25 p.m.
Video footage released this week appears to show Zavala Lopez firing into the victim’s pickup truck as officers arrive.
Next, Zavala Lopez can apparently be seen firing his weapon at the officers and the patrol vehicle.
The officers returned fire and then followed the suspect as he fled the scene in a pickup truck.
They met again in the 4700 block of Second Avenue, where the suspect allegedly shot from his vehicle as he drove past, resulting in one officer being struck in his bullet-proof vest.
While the officer was hospitalized with non-life-threatening wounds, Zavala Lopez remained at large until that same evening.
He was located in a private residence in the 2000 block of South Valley Parkway in Lewisville, about 30 miles away.
SWAT, Dallas police, and Lewisville police confronted Zavala Lopez, who was hiding in a horse stall.
His arrest appears in the released footage, with officers telling him to show his hands and him failing to comply. He was shot in the hip and taken into custody.
He was allegedly found with a 9mm pistol and an extra magazine.
“We are lucky to have our officers alive today,” Garcia said, according to NBC 5. “Our men and women go to work each day not knowing what the day or call will hold to serve and protect. I’m grateful for the brave men and women of this department for the great work they do each day and the bravery and commitment to our profession and our city. I’m incredibly proud of officers Williams and Mazin who faced evil and did not back down.”
As explained by Sylvia Hernandez, an acquaintance of both Zavala Lopez and Salgado, the dispute leading up to the fatal shooting had been over money.
“I believe that [Zavala Lopez] was not all there. It was something that didn’t even have to happen,” she told NBC 5 while expressing sympathy for Salgado’s family.
Dallas has seen a rise in murders this year, with 179 committed this year as of September 20, marking a 7.8% increase over the same period in 2022, according to City data from the crime analytics dashboard.
DPD has been short-staffed in recent years, operating with a force of under 3,200 officers. This is short of the 4,000 advised in a City analysis, which stated that a city the size of Dallas needs about three officers for every 1,000 residents.
The shortage has been especially felt in Downtown Dallas, which regularly logs higher crime rates than the centers of other cities, for instance neighboring Fort Worth. A special neighborhood police unit reportedly patrols the latter alongside private security guards.