A foreign national has been charged with capital murder for allegedly shooting and killing a Texas police officer during a vehicle chase along the far south Texas border region.
The veteran law enforcement officer was killed while assisting the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in a chase that stretched from South Padre Island through Brownsville to San Benito.
“The City of San Benito and the San Benito Police Department send condolences to the family and loved ones of our late Lt. Milton Resendez, who was killed in the line of duty last night serving and protecting the citizens of San Benito,” the city announced on its Facebook page. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
In a press conference, San Benito police chief Mario Perea explained that local officers became involved in an ongoing chase after DPS state troopers reported that they were pursuing a vehicle on the expressway that would be entering San Benito city limits.
“The suspect’s vehicle and Lt. Resendez’s vehicle crossed paths,” Chief Perea explained. “The suspect shot an unknown amount of rounds at Lt. Resendez’s vehicle.”
Two rounds hit the squad car, one passing through the driver’s side door and struck the officer “in his abdomen just below his body armor,” Chief Perea added. After being found unresponsive by other officers, he was taken to a hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
Lt. Resendez had served as a police officer for over 30 years, Perea added. “He was a great officer and a better person.”
A representative from Texas DPS explained in the press conference that the chase started on South Padre Island after law enforcement pulled over the suspect’s red GMC truck for purportedly speeding on the beach. Inside the truck were two men, two women, and two small children.
Allegedly, while the officer questioned the driver outside the truck, the passenger jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off while the original driver hopped into the truck bed.
In Brownsville, gunfire was apparently exchanged between the occupants of the truck and law enforcement.
Reportedly, after ditching the original vehicle for a black Ford Expedition, the two suspects were pursued into San Benito, where they fatally wounded Lt. Resendez before fleeing back to Brownsville. DPS then disabled the vehicle and apprehended the suspects, who allegedly attempted to escape on foot.
In addition to several other offenses, the two men have been charged with capital murder. The men were identified as Rodrigo Axel Espinosa Valdez, a Mexican citizen, and Rogelio Martinez Jr., an American citizen.
In a statement received by The Dallas Express, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Hearts across Texas grieve with the family and loved ones of the San Benito police officer whose life was tragically taken while protecting his fellow Texans.”
“This senseless act is a solemn reminder of the selfless risks our law enforcement officers take every single day when they put on the badge,” Gov. Abbott continued. “I thank the Texas Department of Public Safety, the San Benito police department, and all law enforcement involved in the swift apprehension and arrest of the criminals so justice can be served.”
“Please join Cecilia and me in praying for this brave hero’s family and the entire San Benito community during this heartbreaking time,” Abbott concluded.
The death comes as tensions along the Southern border continue to rise between Texas, the federal government, and Mexico.
Recently, heavily armed cartel squads were spotted across the river from Fronton Island, where Texas DPS have conducted operations to keep cartels from running human trafficking, drug smuggling, and incursions into Texas, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Abbott, who has worked to increase Texas’ response to the crisis, explained, “Texas has taken measures that no state has ever taken in the history of the United States to try to do something to secure the border.”