Gunman at large after ambushing, killing deputy following assault on pizza worker over wrong order: Officials

by Pelican Press
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Gunman at large after ambushing, killing deputy following assault on pizza worker over wrong order: Officials

A manhunt is underway in Houston for the gunman who ambushed and killed an on-duty deputy overnight, authorities said.

The incident began just after 10 p.m. Wednesday when Harris County deputies responded to an aggravated assault at a Little Caesars pizza shop, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Lee said at a news conference.

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“What happened is senseless,” Lee said early Thursday. “The suspect came into the location to pick up a pizza that he had ordered.”

“He was upset because the order was incorrect,” Lee said.

The suspect allegedly verbally assaulted the employee, “then produced a firearm and pistol-whipped the employee and then fled the location,” Lee said.

PHOTO: A manhunt is underway for the person who shot and killed a 28-year-old deputy, July 10, 2024, in northeast Harris County, Texas. (KTRK)

PHOTO: A manhunt is underway for the person who shot and killed a 28-year-old deputy, July 10, 2024, in northeast Harris County, Texas. (KTRK)

“The employee at Little Caesars was able to identify the getaway car by make and model, color and license plate,” Lee said.

Deputy Fernando Esqueda spotted the suspect’s car, Lee said. Esqueda then “had a phone conversation with one of the other detectives to let him know he did have the suspect vehicle in sight,” Lee said.

While on the phone, “our deputy apparently was ambushed” and shot multiple times, Lee said.

PHOTO: Harris County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mike Lee, center, speaks to the press following the ambush of the deputy. (KTRK)PHOTO: Harris County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mike Lee, center, speaks to the press following the ambush of the deputy. (KTRK)

PHOTO: Harris County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Lee, center, speaks to the press following the ambush of the deputy. (KTRK)

Other detectives rushed Esqueda to the hospital where he died from his injuries, Lee said.

The 28-year-old was a five-year veteran of the department, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

He was a “member of a very elite task force, the violent persons task force,” Lee said.

PHOTO: Harris County Deputy Fernando Esqueda was shot and killed on July 10, 2024. (Harris County Sheriff's Department)PHOTO: Harris County Deputy Fernando Esqueda was shot and killed on July 10, 2024. (Harris County Sheriff's Department)

PHOTO: Harris County Deputy Fernando Esqueda was shot and killed on July 10, 2024. (Harris County Sheriff’s Department)

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“None of us are ever prepared for such an untimely death and our members need your prayers and support,” the sheriff wrote on social media. “Our thoughts are with his family as they come to terms with this horrible news. An active investigation is underway to identify and apprehend his killer. We will not rest until we do!”

The sheriff said Ronnie Palmer has been identified as a person of interest.

“There is an active search for Palmer,” Gonzalez said. “Please call us now: do not aid or assist him, or YOU can face serious consequences for doing so. We want a safe resolution.”

Urgent! Help us locate Ronnie Palmer (10-17-79). Palmer is wanted for an Aggravated Assault that occurred on July 10, 2024, at 15634 Wallisville in East Harris County. He is also a person of interest in the Capital Murder of a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy. If you 1/2 pic.twitter.com/Cl3aRW7RH8

— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) July 11, 2024

Lee noted the slaying comes as “everybody’s on edge” in the Houston area, with more than 1 million still without power in the state in the wake of Hurricane Beryl, which struck on Monday.

Gunman at large after ambushing, killing deputy following assault on pizza worker over wrong order: Officials originally appeared on abcnews.go.com




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