Monday, 3 August 2020

Texas city commissioner, 39, is shot dead in a gun battle with police during a domestic dispute call after officers find his girlfriend ‘bleeding profusely from machete wound' and her four-year-old son injured

A Texas city commissioner was shot dead Thursday night in an exchange of gunfire during a five hour standoff with law enforcement who had responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home. 
Authorities rushed to the Mission home of Sullivan City Commissioner Gabriel Salinas after a neighbor saw his girlfriend arrive to his home 'bleeding profusely.' 
The girlfriend, who has not been publicly identified, had a number of lacerations that are believed to have come from a knife or a machete, said Police Chief Robert Dominguez. 
Sullivan City Commissioner Gabriel Salinas (pictured), who was elected in 2017, was shot dead on Thursday evening during a shootout with law enforcement
 Sullivan City Commissioner Gabriel Salinas (pictured), who was elected in 2017, was shot dead on Thursday evening during a shootout with law enforcement
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It's not clear how long Salinas and the victim, both age 39, had been dating before Thursday's incident, The Monitor reports.   
Authorities said two police officers tried to gain entrance into the home through the car garage after making contact with the victim.
When the officers approached the home, the girlfriend's four-year-old son met them and had visible injuries.  The wounded child was removed from the home.  
When officers tried again to approach the home, Salinas allegedly opened fire on authorities and forced them to retreat behind a police vehicle.
Authorities obtained a rifle and began to exchange fire with Salinas, who retreated inside the home and barricaded himself in.
Salinas, pictured with his mom and another relative, was killed in a police gun battle after his girlfriend was found bleeding profusely
Salinas, pictured with his mom and another relative, was killed in a police gun battle after his girlfriend was found bleeding profusely
Salinas, pictured with his mom (left) and other family members,  was  an engineer who was elected to the Mission City Commission in 2017,
Salinas, pictured with his mom (left) and other family members,  was  an engineer who was elected to the Mission City Commission in 2017,
At one point, police called Salinas' family members to the scene to coax him out of the home to no avail.
The Texas Department of Public Safety Special Response Team even used a robot holding a cell phone from Salinas' sister to bridge communication.
But when the robot entered the home, it discovered two doors were closed and couldn't be opened because the machine's 'hand' was holding the cell phone.
The robot was removed from the home and sent back in after authorities removed the cell phone. 
Authorities alleged that Salinas (pictured) opened fire at them when they tried to approach his home in Mission, Texas
Authorities alleged that Salinas (pictured) opened fire at them when they tried to approach his home in Mission, Texas 
That's when the robot opened one bedroom door and found Salinas lying on the ground in a pool of blood
'As far as I know right now, it was not a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I think he died as a result of being hit [in the exchange of gunfire],' said Police Chief Dominguez.
He said two Mission policemen and one Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputy, had fired weapons during the standoff.
Dominguez also said Salinas, an engineer who was elected to the Mission City Commission in 2017, suffered from hemophilia. 
'Obviously, that didn’t help,' said Dominguez. 
The girlfriend underwent surgery for her wounds and remained at the hospital in an ICU unit. She is expected to recover.
Her four-year-old son was released after he received treatment for his head and knee, The Monitor reports.  
An autopsy will determine whether Salinas was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 
The Texas Rangers have taken over the investigation, which is standard protocol for police-involved shootings. 
Texas Department of Public of Public Safety Sgt. Maria Montalvo said Saturday that the investigation was ongoing and referred other questions to Mission police. 
Details surrounding the incident, including other potential suspects and a complete timeline, have not been publicly disclosed. 
Salinas, who previously served on the La Joya school board, was arrested last year for allegedly assaulting the same girlfriend. 
In September 2019, authorities responded to a 911 call regarding domestic disturbance at the home. 
Officers made contact with the victim, who did not end up pursuing charges. 
Salinas would have faced a class A misdemeanor assault, but Municipal Court Judge Mauro Reyna lowered the charge to class C due to the lack of evidence.
Salinas was sentenced to time served and was released later that same day. 
This latest incident is the second time in July that a domestic dispute call turned fatalistic in Rio Grande Valley.
Earlier that month, two McAllen police officers were shot dead while responding to a call.
Dominguez speculated that the latest incidents might be connected with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
'People have been in quarantine in their homes trying to avoid the virus and so forth, and tempers flare and sometimes, unfortunately, people don’t know how to deal with situations like that,' he said. 
But the police chief acknowledged that between March and June, there were less reported assaults this year compared to last year.
Texas is among several states who've seen an uptick in infections, with the Lone Star state recording more than 488,000 cases and 7,400 deaths.  
A number of Mission city officials mourned Salinas' death after the news broke.
Pictured: Sullivan City officials released a statement after news of Salinas' death spread through the community
Pictured: Sullivan City officials released a statement after news of Salinas' death spread through the community 
'He is a human being, and we’re with the family at this time. I know it’s really hard,' said Dominguez.
'To have to tell his mother and his sisters that he died … in this profession, unfortunately, it’s one of the things we have to do.'
In an official statement, Sullivan City officials released a statement and cancelled the city commissioners meeting that was scheduled last Friday.
'It is with a heavy heart that we report the loss of City Commissioner Gabriel Salinas,' read the statement.
'Our thoughts and prayers are with the Salinas Family as well as with the members of his household that were injured in last night’s tragic events.
'We are praying for a full and speedy recovery and ask everyone to do the same. 
'Due to an ongoing investigation, and the sensitive nature of these events, we will not be commenting further at this time.'
City Secretary and interim City Manager Veronica Gutierrez said Salinas' death was 'shocking,' but upsetting because it was another loss of life.
Even though Salinas lived in Mission, he could be a city commissioner in Sullivan City because Texas law allows the use of only a mailing address when filing for office. 

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