April 20 (UPI) — Police in Texas have fatally shot an armed man during a firefight after the suspect hijacked a bus and led officers on a chase through several cities in the state, authorities said.
At least two officers were shot during the incident Sunday and were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the Garland Police Department said in a statement.
The suspect, 31-year-old Ramon Thomas Villagomez who was killed during the exchange of bullets with police, was wanted in San Antonio in connection to the slaying of his girlfriend and the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon of a relative in Brazoria County.
Police said they were alerted to the hijacking of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus in Richardson, Texas, at about 11 a.m. Garland Police Department spokesman Pedro Barineau said during a briefing that the officers were told there was an armed man on a dark bus holding the driver hostage.
Authorities said a sole female passenger was on the bus when Villagomez boarded and instructed the driver at gunpoint where to go.
DART officers attempted to have the suspect, later identified as Villagomez, to pull over but he began shooting at the police, striking one of them in the leg, the department said.
Garland officers arrived and joined the other law enforcement agency in pursuit of the vehicle through Dallas, Richardson, Garland and Rockwall as the suspect fired numerous shots at the pursuing officers, striking multiple police cruisers, authorities said.
Police said one of the rounds pierced the windshield of a cruiser and struck a Garland officer in the neck.
The chase was brought to a halt in Rowlett where officers were able to deploy spike strips along the highway that burst the bus’ tires.
“The gunman exited the bus and shots were continuing to be fired and he was struck by our officers,” Barineau told reporters.
Villagomez was transferred to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, he said.
Investigators were working to determine the motive behind the shooting and the hijacking.
The driver and the female passenger were uninjured, the Garland Police Department said.
The shooting caused authorities to close the President George Bush Turnpike between Highway 66 and Liberty Grove Road during the investigation.
“We were very fortunate,” Barineau said. “As of now, we have not received any reports that anyone else was injured.”
The shooting occurred less than a day after a police officer was killed and two others were critically injured during a shooting in San Marcos, Texas.