Not long after last call at a nearby watering hole early Saturday morning, two San Antonio Police Department patrol officers critically wounded an armed suspect in a four-plex north of downtown.
The officers were sent to the 400 block of West Magnolia near San Pedro Avenue at about 2:15 a.m., in answer to a call about a disturbance. At the house, which has been divided into four units, officers confronted a white male believed to be in his 50s, wielding a combat-style knife.
“We’re not quite sure exactly what happened,” Police Chief William McManus said in an overnight news conference a the scene. “We have not pieced it all together yet. But what we do know is we got a call for a disturbance with a knife. Officers arrived on the scene; two officers entered the apartment.
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“There was an individual inside the apartment that had a combat knife and refused to drop it — again, this is preliminary information — the one officer pulled a Taser, and at some point, fired that Taser at the suspect. Shortly thereafter, the second officer fired his service weapon, struck the suspect multiple times in the upper torso.”
The man with the knife, whose name had not been released as of Saturday night, was taken to University Hospital where he remained in critical condition late Saturday.
There was another man in the apartment at the time, who police said is the son of the woman who lives in the unit. McManus said the son, whose name was not released, may have been the one who called 911 to report the disturbance. A neighbor who talked with the son Saturday morning said the son told him the man was a stranger who had broken into the apartment and was ransacking it.
The officer who shot the suspect is a recent graduate of the police academy, the chief said, and he has been placed on administrative duty, per policy in an officer-involved shooting. The officer’s name had not been released as of Saturday night.
At lunch time Saturday, there was little evidence of the confrontation save a 10-foot stretch of yellow tape across the apartment’s driveway of the immense police presence from overnight, which blocked off the entire block and included several police cruisers and a command truck. One man, who’d been at the Wax Lounge around the corner until closing, was walking down the street to retrieve his truck that had been stuck behind the crime-scene tape.
Officers prevented him from entering the block, he said, while the investigation was going on. He and a friend walked away, in search of a late-night meal, and returned around 4 a.m. but still couldn’t get to the truck.
The neighborhood is a diverse mixture of preserved and restored bungalows and crumbling mansions that have been subdivided into apartments. The four-plex where the shooting occurred lists a bit to the side and is pocked by white paint chipping from its clapboard siding.
Cyclone fencing wraps around a yard with overgrown grass and weeds. Mail could be seen protruding from three of the four mailboxes tacked to the front of the house while brown and blue bins stood sentry by the driveway.
Residents milling along the street Saturday afternoon said they didn’t hear any commotion leading up to the shooting.
“I heard what I thought was knocking at the door, which turned out to be the gunshots,” said a Navy veteran who lives across the street. “It woke up both myself and my wife.”
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It’s not uncommon, the veteran said, to see “inebriated folks” returning to their cars late at night, and it’s not the first time cops have been in the neighborhood. He said he looked out the window and saw a police cruiser, its lights flashing, and then several others arrive shortly after. Then an ambulance came.
“It didn’t seem like anybody was in a hurry,” he said. “My wife and I are both nurses, and we assumed that someone had been killed.”
Will Kelly, a man in his 40s who lives next door, said he was in his bathroom when he heard the “tat-tat” of two rapid-fire gunshots, “that unmistakable sound.”
Smoking a cigarette on his porch, Kelly said he turned out the light and looked out the window and saw officers “swarming around” the four-plex.
Kelly, who said he’s lived there for about 15 years, recalled an incident involving a man with a high-powered rifle about a decade ago.
In that case, the suspect apparently called an out-of-state police department to warn that “all hell was going to break loose,” Kelly said. Police stayed on both ends of the block and called in the U.S.
Army, apparently, because the suspect had also stockpiled grenades, Kelly said.
Eventually, the man shot his dog and torched his house, Kelly said.
“You can check your archives,” he said. “It’s there.”
Staff writer Chris Quinn contributed to this report.