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Hero Down: Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston Murdered By Gunman

Houston, TX – Houston Police Department (HPD) Sergeant Harold Preston was murdered in the line of duty on Tuesday morning.

The 65-year-old sergeant was one of many officers who responded to the Richmond Manor apartments in the 2600-block of Holly Hall and El Mundo to assist a woman who was trying to gather some of her property from her estranged husband, KTRK reported.

When the officers arrived at the scene to help the woman to retrieve her property, her husband allegedly opened fire on them, HPD Chief Art Acevedo said during a press conference late Tuesday morning.

Chief Acevedo noted that police had been called to the residence on multiple occasions over the weekend.

At approximately 9:25 a.m. on Tuesday, the woman’s 14-year-old son was able to unlock the door of the home and opened it, KTRK reported.

That’s when he saw his father holding a gun.

He immediately warned the officers, but not before the gunman was able to open fire on them.

The chief identified the accused gunman as 51-year-old Salvadorian native Elmer Manzano.

HPD Officer Courtney Waller was shot in the arm during the attack, as was Manzano’s 14-year-old son, Chief Acevedo said.

A former gang member raced to help Officer Waller in the wake of the shooting, KTRK reported.

He was able to put a tourniquet on his arm and pulled him to safety, then went back into the fray to retrieve the wounded officer’s duty weapon.

He wrapped the gun in a towel and gave it to backup officers when they arrived at the scene.

Sgt. Preston, who was one of the first officers to head into the confrontation, was shot “more than once in the head,” the chief told reporters.

He also suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder area, which left a bullet embedded in his spine.

Chief Acevedo said that Officer Waller, who has been with the HPD for three years, and the 14-year-old boy are both doing well and are expected to recover from their gunshot wounds.

Manzano, who has a criminal history that is so extensive the chief angrily refused to discuss it, was shot in the abdomen during the gun battle.

He has since been hospitalized in stable condition, Chief Acevedo said.

Sgt. Preston, a 41-year veteran-of-the-force, was rushed to a local hospital.

Chief Acevedo said medical personnel were able to keep him alive long enough for his mother, his 23-year-old daughter and her mother, and his fiancé to get to his side.

He was surrounded by his family when he “breathed his last breath,” the chief told reporters. “He was not alone.”

Sgt. Preston planned to retire later this year after devoting more than four decades of his life to the HPD, Chief Acevedo said.

He noted that Sgt. Preston was the type of leader who every department covets, because he was always “leading from the front.”

With his years of experience, the sergeant could easily have taken a safer position, “working behind a desk,” but that wasn’t the sort of job he wanted to do, Chief Acevedo explained.

“The ones that work the hardest are the ones most at risk,” the chief told reporters. “As good as he was as a cop, he was an even better human being.”

Sgt. Preston lived with and took care of his elderly parents.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Houston Police Department Sergeant Harold Preston, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Sergeant Harold Preston, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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