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Texas police officer shot, killed during pursuit of 2 men along southern border

A San Benito, Texas, police officer was fatally shot while pursuing two men — one of whom was from Mexico — who sped off during a traffic stop, swapped vehicles, raced through several cities along the southern border of the state, and were finally arrested hours later.

San Benito Police Department Chief Mario Perea told reporters on Wednesday that Lt. Milton Resendez was struck in the abdomen by a bullet that went through the door of his patrol car.

The bullet hit below Resendez’s body armor, and he was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

“He cared about everyone. He got along with everyone,” Perea said of Resendez, a 30-year veteran police officer.

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Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said 18-year-old Rogelio Martinez Jr. of Brownsville, and 23-year-old Rodrigo Axel Espinosa Valdez of Mexico both face multiple charges including capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not immediately respond to inquiries on whether Valdez was in the U.S. illegally.

At about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, law enforcement officials stopped a truck carrying two men, two women and two small children while speeding on the beach in South Padre Island.

As the officer questioned the driver of the truck, a passenger started it up and the driver hopped into the bed before speeding off, Saenz said.

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During the pursuit, the two women and children exited the vehicle, with the women being detained and questioned.

Martinez and Valdez remained in the truck, leading police into Brownsville, where gunfire was exchanged between the two men and officers, before police lost sight of the truck.

The truck was later found disabled.

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Six hours after the traffic stop was initiated, law enforcement officials spotted the two men in an SUV in Brownsville, sparking another pursuit that led to San Benito, where Resendez was shot. The chase returned to Brownsville, where the men were ultimately arrested after attempting to flee from the SUV once police disabled it.

Perea did not say which suspect shot Resendez, and the number of rounds fired was still unknown.

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Resendez spent the majority of his career in law enforcement with the San Benito Police Department, Perea said, making things difficult for the chief.

“It’s hard right now,” Perea said. “We lost one of our own. He worked with us for so long he’s not just a coworker, he’s part of our family now.”

Former Rep. Mayra Nohemi Flores, R-Tex., said on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, called the killing of a Texas police officer while in the line of duty “utterly disgusting.”

“The armed suspects were encountered near the coastal border, and one of them was illegally in the country,” she said. “Border related violence is real, and American lives remain at risk every day.”

Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a statement about the murder, saying, “hearts across Texas grieve with the family and loved ones” of Resendez.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and is being conducted by Texas Rangers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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