Susy Solis, NBCDFW.com
The off-duty Delta County sheriff's deputy who intercepted a gunman at a Commerce Walmart is being hailed as a hero.
Officials have revealed the name of the gunman who allegedly attempted to storm an East Texas Walmart.
Police said 29-year-old Artenio Rodriguez fired shots near a bridge before exchanging gunfire with several police officers Sunday afternoon.
Greenville officers warned officials in Commerce that Rodriguez was believed to be headed in their direction. Commerce police intercepted Rodriguez's red Ford Mustang along state Highway 24/50 just south of the city.
Investigators said Rodriguez pointed his weapon at the pursuing officer, and he and the officer exchanged gunfire. Rodriguez then continued to the Walmart in Commerce, where he got out of his car and entered the store carrying a handgun and a long-barreled weapon, said Marty Cunningham, of the Commerce Police Department.
Off-duty Delta County deputy Paul Robertson, who was shopping with his wife, saw the armed man enter the store and attempted to disarm him.
"Robertson identified himself as law enforcement and ordered Rodriguez to drop his weapons. After failing to do so, Rodriguez opened fire on deputy Robertson. Commerce police officers were on scene and were able to take Rodriguez down immediately, before anyone else could get hurt," said Cunningham in a news release Monday.
Rodriguez was killed, and the off-duty officer was injured in the exchange. Robertson was transported by air ambulance to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler with a gunshot wound to the right side of his chest.
“The incident that took place at the Commerce Wal-Mart Supercenter is unfortunate. However, the quick response and action by Commerce police and off-duty deputy Paul Robertson eliminated injuries to innocent bystanders," Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews said. "Officers train for this type of incident in hopes of never having to use that training. The officers involved had to use their training and experience and were able to overcome the threat. Without the quick thinking of deputy Paul Robertson, I believe that more people could have been injured."
Robertson, who is expected to be discharged from the hospital on Monday afternoon, was texting friends and talking on the telephone Monday morning.
Sheriff Gerald Teague said Robertson "obviously saved lives." He added that Robertson was sore, but ready to go home.
No other injuries have been reported in connection with the random gunfire or exchange of gunfire. Two people inside the Walmart at the time of the shooting were hospitalized with chest pains.
Victims that were present during the shooting are encouraged to contact The Crisis Center of North East Texas for counseling. It can be reached at 903-454-9999.