Ex-gang member, hailed ‘hero’ for pulling injured Houston officers out of line of fire: ‘Didn’t see cops, didn’t see color’

Originally Published: 21 OCT 20 18:30 ET

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Houston, TX (KTVT) — Police have yet to identify an ex-gang member who Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo called a “hero” for helping one of two officers shot at an apartment complex Tuesday morning. Sgt. Harold Preston, a 41-year veteran of the department was killed. He had plans of retiring from the force soon.

Acevedo said Sgt. Preston suffered multiple head wounds during the shooting and was also shot in the spine. Another officer, Sgt. Courtney Waller was shot in the arm and is expected to survive.

Before Acevedo talked about the Good Samaritan, he related a story about seeing an officer “beaten to a pulp” online when he woke up Tuesday morning. “And you see people with their cell phone cameras — instead of helping that police officer — they were egging them on. They were actually egging them on? Didn’t lift a finger help that police officer.”

Acevedo said he wanted to make sure that the public learned about the — as of yet — unnamed Good Samaritan who stepped in to help Sgt. Waller by wrapping his arm in a tourniquet and pulling Preston out of the line of fire.

“Hey, that guy that just shot you, he’s still right in there he could come out and shoot us again and try to kill us. Let’s get you out of here,” said Acevedo relating the story of what the Good Samaritan said. “He saw a man who needed help. He’s a hero.”

Acevado continued, “While he’s walking, Officer Waller says, ‘Did you get my gun?’ because after he got shot he dropped his gun. This young man — that had a life that was not a good life — went back and grabbed the officer’s gun.”

“Then he had the presence of mind to realize, we just had two officers shot; I’m African-American; I’m sitting here with all these tattoos; no shirt… and I don’t want officers to see me coming up with a gun. He had the presence of mind to wrap it in the towel, calmly walk up to the front of the apartment complex where other officers were coming and say, ‘Hey the officer’s been shot, but this is his gun.’ ” said Acevado. “I share that because we need to stop pre our predisposition to judge one another and realize there’s a lot of good people.”

The suspected shooter — Elmer Manzano, 51 — was arrested, authorities said.

Manzano was shot in the abdomen and taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Acevedo said he has an extensive rap sheet, including a charge for animal cruelty.

Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement:

“Our hearts are with the family of Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston who was shot and killed in the line of duty this morning,” said Governor Abbott. “This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the dangers our brave law enforcement officers face while keeping our communities safe. Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in lifting up Sgt. Preston’s family in prayer in their time of need. We also ask all Texans to pray for the speedy recovery of Houston Police Officer Courtney Waller who was shot while responding to the same incident and is recovering in the hospital. The state stands ready to assist the Houston Police Department in bringing to justice the perpetrators of this horrific tragedy.”

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