TEXAS CITY  — A SWAT standoff as police tried to arrest a Harris County murder suspect ended after two hours with the primary suspect dead and his girlfriend in custody.

Police surrounded an apartment building at the Windsor Estate apartments, 2801 FM 2004, where a murder suspect was holed up with his girlfriend.

The standoff began when Texas City police assisted members of the regional violent crimes task force in the arrest at about 10 a.m. The suspects refused to come out and SWAT was called, Stanton said. Police evacuated residents from nearby apartment units. 


Flash grenades, gas used

After a two-hour standoff, negotiations to convince the couple to come out failed so Texas City SWAT used two flash-bang grenades and tear gas, Texas City Police Capt. Joe Stanton said.

Soon after, the girlfriend came out of a room and was taken into custody.

Wearing a blue sweatshirt and sweatpants, she was crying as police and EMS staff attended to her outside the apartment building. They also handcuffed and searched her. 

Police first indicated the woman might have been a hostage, but Stanton said she was wanted on a charge of credit card abuse and that she was “actively involved,” in the standoff.

She allegedly used credit cards issued to the murder victim, police said.


Suspect found hanged

About 10 minutes later, there were two more bangs, and police used more gas, Police Chief Robert Burby said.

Police stormed a back bedroom where the man was barricaded. They found the man in the closet with a noose around his neck, police said.

Soon after, police carried the nude body of a man out. EMS staff tried to revive him but he died at the scene, Stanton said.

The names of the woman and man were not released. Harris County Sheriff’s Office officials did not respond to requests for information.

The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office was expected Wednesday to send the man’s fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety for a positive identification. The office would also attempt to notify a relative of his death, John Florence, a spokesman for the office, said.


Victim buried under chicken coop

The male suspect was wanted in connection to the murder of car salesman Jesus Leal Valdez, 41, who was found buried 2 feet beneath a chicken coop in the 5200 block of Mohawk St. in Harris County during the weekend.

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences listed Leal-Valdez’s death as a homicide. He died of multiple sharp and blunt-force injuries. His place of death is listed as a backyard of a residence in Houston.

Valdez was last seen New Year’s Eve on his way to show a woman a truck he was selling, his family told KHOU-11 News. A woman was seen on surveillance cameras at several places using Valdez’s debit card and leaving in a maroon SUV, according to KHOU.

Wednesday was the second attempt police made to make the arrests. Stanton said officers were at the same apartment two days ago to serve the arrests warrants, but the couple wasn’t home.


Residents trapped

The standoff interrupted what residents said was usually a quiet apartment complex on the city’s far west side near Interstate 45.

“Most of the time it is real quiet out here,” said Lane Walker, who lives two buildings over from where the standoff happened.

He was headed out for work when he saw the police first move in.

“I (saw) these armed guys with M-16s and wearing helmets and was pretty freaked out,” Walker said. 

Mike Clemons of Cypress drove down to pick up his father-in-law when police cars greeted him. He was on one side of the complex, blocked in by police, while his father-in-law waited the situation out in an apartment on the other side.

“It’s not what I expected to see when I got here,” he said. “At first I was like, ‘Ok, what else could go wrong today. ‘But what can you do? I am stuck until it’s all over.”


Welcome to Texas City

Larry Huckins and his wife moved to Texas City from Midland, Mich., on Friday. The standoff was not what he bargained for when he moved to Galveston County.

“I walked around the corner and saw all the cops and went ‘whoa,’” Huckins said as he watched the standoff take place about 50 yards away.

Danielle Spurlock, a nursing student at College of the Mainland, said a friend called her to say there was something happening at her apartment complex.

“I came home from school and couldn’t get to my apartment,” Spurlock said. “The (police) had everything blocked off. I had to park on the other side of the complex and walk to my apartment (about 200 feet from the standoff).”

Like about two dozen other residents, Spurlock stuck around until the standoff was over. As police carried the male suspect out, many of the residents clapped in salute to the work by the officers.

Daily News reporter Chris Paschenko contributed to this report.

(10) comments

Terry Moore

I was shocked to see the picture of the SWAT Team carrying out the body nude. Always thought they would put it on a stretcher or in a body bag.

Lars Faltskog

Quite interesting...you're right, terrymoore.

I often don't flip through these GDN pictures (guess I'm too impatient), but your post made me do so. That's pretty graphic.

I wonder if there were extenuating circumstances inside the apt that made it imperative that the officers quickly carry his body outside without a stretcher, body bag, or sheet.

TJ Aulds Staff
TJ Aulds

He was alive at the time they brought him out to EMS to retrieve him. He died outside.

Terry Moore

Thanks TJ for clarifying. I re-read it and see that I assumed he was dead when they found him.

Lars Faltskog

My lands, then that must mean that when that photo was taken of them carrying the man, he had very likely died barely moments earlier. Or, officially died as he was in their arms.

Cathy Heikkila

Article states they are carrying the BODY of a murder SUSPECT. So, it's a BODY. I am shocked that a body gets dragged out by it's arms. And, on the front page of the paper. Really. It was a suspect. Maybe he's guilty maybe not. But don't drag out a body by it's arms, but worse thing is don't print the picture on front page of newspapers. Editor states in these comments that he died later, but really, do they drag living people needing medical attention out by the arms?

TJ Aulds Staff
TJ Aulds

Actually, it is common to hogtie suspected violent offenders when taking them into custody. He had ties on his wrists for example. He was then taken to paramedics. In this situation the procedure was to secure the suspect and bring him to a controlled area for any medical treatment.

Lars Faltskog

From the TV scenes, it appears that's what they did to the female suspect - hogtie her. The footage appeared to have her tied as she was being escorted. I didn't notice if she was tied to her wrists in front of her. I suppose so, but she was alive and moving on her own.

Either way, the footage of the alleged female credit card abuser didn't seem nearly as "odd". Actually, it looked routine - she was even resisting, and that's commonplace. By my surmisation, the only reason it appeared graphic in the suspect man's case was that he died, and obviously with that, he couldn't walk on his own. Therefore, it appeared as though he was "dragged".

So, we ask...why drag him?? All I can say is that law enforcement has a hazardous and dangerous job when they try to transport suspects. They had to do what they had to do in this case. I would think that if a violent, yet wiley, suspect seemingly tries to "hang" himself inside, then law enforcement might still be leery when they first see his apparent listless body. They have to make quick decisions. If they didn't hogtie him, then there could be a small chance he is playing a trick - pretending to be "out cold" and/or dead. Then, he could "revive" and be violent.

What an awful story, in any event. To take down another guy while he's car selling and then to use his credit cards. How much more lower on the humanity scale can you get?

maria garza

I only have two question for the SWAT & POLICE DEPT. do you not have body bag's why carry the man like a dead animal? I see photos like this in other countries, and I thought we were better than them. guess not.

Lars Faltskog

Well, with the things this violent suspect allegedly did, I doubt if suspect would be worried about being dragged in the nude. As Aulds said, he died outside. I believe when law enforcement apprehend criminals who are alive in a building, they have to take the suspect "as is". That's why on COPs and other shows we see a lot of suspects getting arrested in their shorts (no shirt). The cops are probably even leery to ask them to put on shoes or tanktop, as within the tanktop/shoe some kind of contraband could be on/in them.

Would be keen to have a law enforcement person add to this conversation.

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