Houston, TX – Doctors had to remove both of a wounded Harris County deputy constable’s kidneys in order to save his life after he and two of his fellow deputies were shot while working a second job at a sports bar early Saturday morning.
Harris County Deputy Constable Kareem Atkins, 30, was fatally shot in the head during the ambush attack, which occurred outside the 45 Norte Sport Bar at approximately 2:15 a.m. on Oct. 16, KHOU reported.
The shooting occurred after Deputy Constable Atkins and Deputy Constable Darryl Garrett, 28, were alerted about a disturbance in the bar’s parking lot.
Investigators later said the incident may have been a robbery.
The deputy constables were in the process of arresting a suspect when a gunman armed with an AR-15 opened fire on them from behind a vehicle, according to KHOU.
The two deputy constables “were just totally ambushed,” Houston Police Department (HPD) Executive Assistant Chief James Jones later told CNN.
Deputy Constable Juqaim Barthen, 26, heard the gunshots and ran to help his fellow deputies, but he was shot before he could even draw his gun, according to Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman.
The HPD said they detained and questioned a person near the scene of the attack, but they don’t believe he was the gunman, KHOU reported.
Police are now searching for a heavyset, bearded Hispanic male in his 20s who was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans, according to KTRK.
The three wounded deputy constables were rushed to a local hospital, where Deputy Constable Atkins was pronounced dead.
The married father-of-two served the HCCO for over two years and had recently returned to work from paternity leave.
Deputy Constable Garrett’s fiancé, Lajah Richardson, said Deputy Constable Barthen suffered a gunshot wound to the foot and remained hospitalized in stable condition on Monday, KHOU reported.
Deputy Constable Garrett, a three-year HCCO veteran, was shot in the back and has been in and out of surgery since Saturday, Richardson told the news outlet.
She said doctors have been focused on removing the bullet fragments that damaged his organs, and that they had to remove both of his kidneys and his gall bladder in the process, KHOU reported.
Deputy Constable Garrett will need a kidney transplant in the future in order to survive.
Richardson said she has not yet told him about Deputy Constable Atkins’ death, KHOU reported.
They were best friends, she told the news outlet.
“They call each other brothers. They do everything together,” Richardson said.
PRAYERS TO THE HARRIS COUNTY DEPUTY CONSTABLES AND OUR FALLEN HERO: 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/3znBn8pQLk
— Diane (@POLICEINFLA) October 17, 2021
Richardson told KHOU Deputy Constable Garrett and his father were both previously shot during a four-year-old’s birthday party in an attack that happened exactly four years before Saturday’s shooting.
His father died from his wounds.
“It’s a lot for his family because they’re dealing with trauma all over again on the anniversary,” Richardson said. “It’s a crazy situation for everybody.”
A fundraising campaign established to help the wounded deputy constables has raised over $5,000 so far.
“The men and women of Constable Mark Herman’s Office are mourning the loss of Deputy Kareem Atkins, who was ambushed, shot and killed,” Constable Herman said in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. “Please continue to pray for him, the other two injured deputies and our Precinct 4 family. Rest easy brother. We’ll take the watch from here.”
Constable Herman said the tragic incident is “probably one of the toughest things” he’s experienced in his career, KTRK reported.
“I just left Hermann Hospital where I sat in a room with one of my dead deputies who was ambushed by a coward,” the constable said. “What happened tonight was evil. Now, the good is going to sweep in, and I hope for swift justice. I know that the Houston Police Department is going to do a very thorough investigation.”
“My main concern is the families of the three officers involved,” he told KHOU. “I hope for swift and quick justice for that individual because he ambushed my deputies.”