HOUSTON An HPD narcotics officer was recovering in the hospital Thursday after he was shot while serving a narcotics warrant. Two suspects, 30-year-old Albelino Espinoza and 33-year-old Mario Sosa Nunez are charged in connection with the shooting.
The warrant was part of a massive sweep targeting members of the Zetas and drug cartels believed to be tied to the shooting of an ICE agent in Mexico last week.
Police said Officer Nash Patel, 39, was serving the warrant at a home on Buckboard at Imperial Valley around 8:30 a.m. when he was shot twice.
Investigators said the HPD officers were joined by DEA agents when they initiated the raid.
The officers first knocked on the door of the home, but no one answered.
Investigators said they forced their way in and were announcing themselves as police officers when one of the suspects opened fire.
Police said Patel was in the middle of the group of officers who were moving through the home when he was shot.
Patel was rushed to Memorial Hermann in stable condition.
Fellow officers blocked traffic so Patel s ambulance could get there unimpeded, and he was met by a crowd of more than 60 officers when he arrived at the ER.
Police said Patel was shot once in the arm just behind his elbow and once in the lower left hip. That bullet lodged in his hip, and officials said it would be too dangerous to remove it.
Still, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Patel was happy, talkative and doing remarkably well.
The family s in there with him right now. His parents just got here. He just kept saying, Chief, I m ready to go back to work. It s going to be a while before he goes back to work, but he will be fine and we re very, very grateful, Parker said.
Patel has been with HPD since 1997 and joined the narcotics division in 2006. He was one of the officers who helped save Officer Rick Salter when he was shot in the face while serving a warrant a few years ago.
It s a very, very dangerous job anytime you have to execute a search warrant for people who are fortified in structures and they know that you re coming, HPD Chief Charles McClelland said.
Meanwhile, police were still at the scene of the shooting Thursday afternoon.
Nunez surrendered, but Espinoza was shot as many as four times. He was taken to Northwest Medical Center in stable condition.
Neighbors said they had suspicions about the occupants of the home.
A lot of people, there was a lot of rumors saying that they sold drugs, neighbor Melissa Vargas said.
The warrant sweeps, which began Wednesday, were being conducted by federal, state and local authorities across the country.
We are taking a stand and we are sending a message back to the cartels that we will not tolerate the murder of a U.S. agent, or any U.S. official, said Carl Pike, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration s special operations division.
Espinoza was charged with felony possession of a weapon. His bond was set at $500,000. Nunez was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer. He has no bond.