San Benito police officer killed in overnight shooting, two suspects arrested

San Benito police officer killed in overnight shooting, two suspects arrested
8 months 5 hours 10 minutes ago Wednesday, October 18 2023 Oct 18, 2023 October 18, 2023 7:26 AM October 18, 2023 in News - Local

Two men were arrested in connection with an overnight shooting in Cameron County that killed a San Benito police officer.

The San Benito Police Department and Cameron County District Attorney's Office held a Wednesday afternoon press conference, where they confirmed San Benito police Lt. Milton Resendez was killed following the shooting.

The suspects were identified as Rodrigo Axel Espinoza Valdez, a Mexican citizen, and 18-year-old Rogelio Martínez from Brownsville. They were in custody at the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center as of Tuesday afternoon.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said the incident first began Tuesday afternoon at around 4:30 p.m. at South Padre Island when a traffic stop was conducted on a GMC truck speeding on the beach.

The truck was occupied by two males, identified as Valdez and Martinez, two females and two children.

During a routine investigation, the driver was removed from inside the vehicle and taken toward the back for questioning, Saenz added.

According to Saenz, the passenger then jumped into the driver's seat and started the truck as the driver of the vehicle jumped into the bed of the truck and sped off.

The truck was spotted in Port Isabel a few minutes later and a pursuit ensued by Cameron County constable deputies and troopers with the Department of Public Safety, according to Saenz.

Saenz said gunfire was exchanged between the suspects in the truck and responding officers when it reached the Brownsville area.

"Because of the gunfire and the safety of the community, the officers fall back so as not to bring any danger to our citizens. As a result, they lose them," Saenz said.

The truck was later found "disabled" with the women and children, but the two male suspects had fled. 

The women are being detained for further questioning.

At around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, the two suspects were spotted in Brownsville in a black Ford Expedition and a second chase began.

During the second chase, the suspect vehicle ended up traveling southbound on Sam Houston Boulevard when Lt. Resendez joined the pursuit.

San Benito Police Chief Mario Perea said it was at around the 11000 block of north Sam Houston that Resendez and the suspect vehicle crossed paths.

Perea said the suspects shot an unknown amount of rounds at Resendez's patrol unit.

"From the information we have, two rounds struck Lt. Resendez's police unit, one through the front bumper and one through the driver side door," Perea said. "The round that hit the driver side door penetrated the body of the door and struck Resendez in his abdomen just below his body armor. When he did not respond to his radio, [officers] immediately went to check on him and found Lt. Resendez unresponsive in the driver's seat."

Perea said Resendez was transported to Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Saenz said the chase continued back to Brownsville, where a pit maneuver was exercised, and the Expedition was disabled. Valdez and Martinez attempted to flee on foot but were later apprehended. 

Valdez and Martinez are facing charges of evading arrest, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and capital murder and will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

"It's a tragic and somber day for Cameron County...it is a sordid reminder of what it is these folks do on a daily basis," Saenz said.

Chief Perea said Resendez served as a police officer for 30 years and had planned to end is career with the San Benito Police Department.

"He was a great officer and a better person. I asked the public to keep his family in his prayers as they mourn the loss of their loved one," Perea said.

The investigation is ongoing.

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