McAllen, TX – McAllen Police Department (MPD) Officer Ismael Chavez was murdered in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance call on Saturday afternoon.
His fellow officer, 45-year-old MPD Officer Edelmiro Garza, was also killed in the ambush attack.
The incident occurred at a residence on the south side of McAllen at approximately 3:30 p.m. on July 11, MPD Chief Victor Rodriguez said during a press conference, according to KTRK.
Officer Chavez, 39, and Officer Garza were dispatched to the home after a neighbor called police to report that 23-year-old Audon “Audie” Ignacio Camarillo was arguing with his mother and her boyfriend, Camarillo’s relative told The Monitor.
According to Chief Rodriguez, Camarillo opened fire on the officers as they approached the front door of the residence, KTRK reported.
“The officers never had a chance to suspect a deadly assault on them, much less death, at that moment in time,” the emotional chief told reporters, according to CNN.
“Our officers did not draw their weapons, did not fire, never stood a chance,” he said, according to NBC News.
Police had no idea that the officers had been shot until two additional officers arrived at the scene to assist them with the call.
Chief Rodriguez said that the two additional officers ordered the gunman to drop his weapon, at which point he fatally shot himself, CNN reported.
Chief Rodriguez said that Camarillo was no stranger to law enforcement, and that he was previously arrested for assault, marijuana possession, fleeing from police and driving under the influence, according to The Monitor.
Officer Garza and Officer Chavez were rushed to a local hospital, where they were both pronounced dead, CNN reported.
“These are difficult moments,” Chief Rodriguez said, according to KTRK. “The officers came here to maintain peace. Instead, they were taken down by gunfire.”
“Our department and our officers stand by each other,” he continued. “Together we’re strong and I think that’s what will help us through these next few weeks.”
Although the department is in mourning, their “strength and resolve” will allow them to continue to serve and protect the community, Chief Rodriguez said, according to CNN.
“In the face of adversity, we rise and we serve nonetheless,” he added.
Officer Garza served the MPD for nine years, and Officer Chavez had been with the department for over two years, KTRK reported.
Prior to his law enforcement career, Officer Chavez spent nine years working as a Weslaco East High School football coach and science teacher, The Monitor reported.
“Words cannot describe the pain I’m in, but I’m glad my dad is at peace,” Officer Chavez’s daughter, Savannah Chavez, wrote in a social media post, according to KTRK. “You were an amazing man and anyone who ever came across you knew that. I’m going to miss you so much. you died doing what you loved most, you died a hero. i love you daddy, see you soon.”
Savannah later deleted the post after critics posted vile anti-police messages in response to her tribute to her murdered father.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of the slain officers, The Monitor reported.
“The First Lady and I extend our prayers of comfort to the Garza and Chavez families during their time of grief,” Abbot told McAllen Mayor Jim Darling in a letter, according to The Monitor. “I urge all Texans to remember and honor their faithful service to the State of Texas as brave and courageous law enforcement officers.”
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said that Officer Garza and Officer Chavez both “left an indelible mark on their community and the state of Texas.”
“Today we mourn with a heavy heart the lives of two courageous members of the City of McAllen Police Department,” Cortez said in a news release on Sunday. “May God be with their family and friends during this difficult time.”
The WISD family is mourning the loss of former WEHS science teacher & football coach Ismael Chavez. He was employed by WISD, for approximately 9 yrs. Today Chavez & Officer Edelmiro Garza were tragically killed in the line of duty.Our deepest condolences go out to their families. pic.twitter.com/6QjqkfpeYo
— Weslaco ISD (@WeslacoISD) July 12, 2020
Procession for Fallen McAllen police officers via FB live pic.twitter.com/k6DuphfmUx
— SacKat (@sachibub10) July 12, 2020
This weekend, 2 #Heroe Officers were ambushed and killed because the uniform they wore.
Make sure you know their names – Officer Edelmiro Garza & Officer Ismael Chavez of @CityofMcAllen Police Department.
Pray for their families. pic.twitter.com/tAEKvObXLh
— New Jersey State PBA (@NJSPBA) July 13, 2020
As our community grieves for the two brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice , a memorial has been set up at the McAllen Police Department for mourners to drop off flowers or small keepsakes to keep their memories alive. 💙🖤💙#McAllenStrong #OfcGarza #OfcChavez pic.twitter.com/jezWo5P6aH
— City of McAllen, TX (@CityofMcAllen) July 12, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of McAllen Police Department Officer Ismael Chavez, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Ismael Chavez, your life mattered.