Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on June 29, but has been updated throughout.
A San Antonio police officer died Friday, one day after a crime prevention patrol erupted into a shooting that left another officer wounded and the suspect dead.
Officer Miguel Moreno, who was shot in the head during the confrontation Thursday afternoon, was pronounced dead at San Antonio Military Medical Center shortly after 11 a.m. Friday morning, San Antonio Police Department officials said. Moreno was 32 years old and a Lanier High School grad. He is survived by his mother, father, three sisters, and a brother.
Police identified the suspect as Andrew C. Bice, 34. The medical examiner’s office determined that Bice shot himself in the head, according to a report in the San Antonio Express-News. Police said previously that one of the officers shot the suspect in the buttocks during the exchange of gunfire.
While on patrol, Moreno and Officer Julio Cavazos stopped two suspects, one of whom was Bice, walking down West Evergreen Street north of downtown. When they got out of the car, Bice pulled out a gun and shot both officers, police said.
Cavazos was shot in the chin, and the bullet lodged in his upper torso. He is in serious condition, Police Chief William McManus said. As of Saturday, the police department stated that Cavazos is still in intensive care and has a long recovery ahead of him. He is a husband and father to a young daughter. McManus said Cavazos has successfully completed surgery but has more surgeries to go.
“I’m at a loss for words to describe what a tragedy this is,” McManus told reporters Friday morning during a briefing at Public Safety Headquarters. “… Officer Moreno [was] a great cop.
“We are going to be minus [Cavazos’] services for quite some time, I’m guessing. Officer Cavazos has successfully completed surgery, but I was told he had more surgeries to go.”
Moreno and Cavazos, both nine-year veterans in their 30s, were on patrol on Evergreen Street north of downtown shortly before 3:30 p.m. Thursday when McManus said they noticed a car that looked like it had been broken into and stopped two individuals who seemed to be acting suspiciously.
“Officer [Moreno] went down by the driver’s door – the one that got shot in the head. Officer Cavazos pulled him from the line of fire to the front of the vehicle and then returned fire himself after being shot in the chin,” McManus said.
Bice was shot by Cavazos and went down near the intersection of Evergreen and Howard streets before being pronounced dead, McManus said Friday. The other suspect, who has been identified by SAPD as William Lawson, was transported to Public Safety Headquarters, but later released “because there was nothing we could charge him with,” McManus said.
Lawson, 30, who was called a witness after being released Thursday, was arrested on unrelated firearms and drug possession charges Saturday. But “Mr. Lawson seems to be a pathological liar,” so McManus deemed the information he has given officials “unreliable.”
Lawson was found in possession of heroin and a .22-caliber firearm.
Bice had a lengthy criminal record that involved a two-year prison sentence in 2006 and a subsequent prison stay for seven months in 2007, according to the San Antonio Express News. In 2003, Bice received a four-month sentence on a family violence charge in Terrell Hills and in 2005 he was charged for evading arrest from the Texas Highway Patrol, pleading no contest. In Louisiana, from 2008-2017, Bice received more than 30 charges ranging from drunken driving and resisting arrest to kidnapping and burglary.
Lawson also has extensive criminal record, including 14 arrests. He has been charged with forgery, drug possession, criminal trespassing, prostitution, indecent exposure, and most recently, he was twice convicted of prostitution, according to public records. Several of the offenses took place in the neighborhood where the shooting took place Thursday.
Nonetheless, McManus said SAPD has no reason to“believe the second suspect had any role in the shooting of the two officers.”
“That horrible, tragic incident could have happened anywhere in the city,” McManus said Friday, noting that the area is not known for being dangerous.
“I spoke to a gentleman who owns many businesses out there this morning and he assured me that he is appreciative of the partnership with SAPD, that his patrons and those who socialize there feel safe and I believe that to be true,” he said. “We don’t see anything on the crime maps that would indicate otherwise.”
The shooting occurred one week into the tenure of new Mayor Ron Nirenberg. On Friday afternoon, Nirenberg ordered all flags at city facilities to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Moreno’s passing. Gov. Greg Abbott also ordered for Texas flags in San Antonio to be lowered to half-staff until Monday.
“We continue to offer our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family and the San Antonio Police Department community,” Nirenberg said in a statement. “We also extend our sympathies and prayers to officer Julio Cavazos, who also was critically wounded in the incident. This tragedy reminds us all of the sacrifices and bravery of our public safety officers who deserve our sincere gratitude.”
City Council members expressed their condolences, with several noting that Moreno’s death followed those of two first responders in the line of duty recently. Firefighter Scott Deem died last month while fighting a large fire last month, and SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi was shot twice in the head and killed in November 2016 while writing a ticket outside the SAPD headquarters.
“This is the second time in less than a year that one of our SAPD officers has been killed due to senseless gun violence,” Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw (D2) said. “The violence must stop. Now more than ever, our community must come together.”
Councilman John Courage (D9) stated the “brutal attack” shocked him and offered his condolences to the families of both officers.
“Having served as a military police officer in the Air Force, this type of ruthlessness touches me deeply,” Courage said. “Let the days leading into our nation’s remembrance of our independence be a solemn reminder of those who continue to protect our freedoms and the families who lift them up.”
Roxanne Rooks and Jamie Vaquera came to the Public Safety Headquarters with their children after hearing about the shooting late Thursday afternoon. They left balloons, a card, and candles. Rooks and Vaquera’s husbands both work for the San Antonio Police Department.
“It’s our way of showing respect for our officers … we do this every time there’s an officer passing,” Rooks said. “This is our way of grieving, it’s our way of just showing that we support our brothers, our family.
“San Antonio is very giving and everyone loves and supports the department. Unfortunately it feels like it keeps happening. We were just here in [November when SAPD Detective Benjamin Marconi was killed] and then we paid our respects to firefighter Scott Deem. We hope and pray it doesn’t happen, but it’s just something that’s part of the blue line.”
Funeral arrangements for Moreno remain pending.