A Texas deputy constable is expected to recover after undergoing several hours of surgery for multiple wounds suffered when he was shot while talking to another constable following a traffic stop in Houston, authorities said Thursday.
Harris County Deputy Constable Alden Clopton was wearing a protective vest when he was shot from behind late Wednesday, Constable May Walker said during a Thursday morning news conference.
A motive for the shooting is unknown. Asked if authorities believed the shooter was targeting law enforcement, Houston police spokesman Kese Smith told The Associated Press that both deputy constables were in uniform and had marked vehicles.
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"I can't see how someone can mistake them for someone other than law enforcement," Smith said.
The suspect fired six shots, four of which hit Clopton, Walker said. Officials had said earlier that Clopton had a bullet lodged near his heart, plus abdominal wounds. The other shots hit the other deputy constable's car and the ground.
"It was virtually an ambush is what it was," Walker said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Authorities were questioning a male who showed up at nearby fire station after the shooting and matched the description of the suspected shooter, Smith said. The person had not been arrested or charged, he said, but authorities also were not actively looking for anyone else.
Clopton is an 11-year veteran of the force who is married and has five children, said Pamela Greenwood, spokeswoman for the Harris County precinct seven constable's office. He comes from a law enforcement family, with three brothers who are law officers, and the Houston Chronicle reports he's married to a Harris County sheriff's deputy.
According to Smith, the shooting happened after a female reserve deputy constable made a traffic stop and called Clopton to assist. The vehicle that was pulled over had left and Clopton was standing outside the window of the female's officer's vehicle when he was shot.
Early accounts of the shooting by authorities indicated the gunman walked up to Clopton and fired, but Smith said Clopton was struck from behind as the assailant stood on the other side of a four-lane road just north of Texas Southern University.
The female deputy constable got out and shot back, but it was unknown if she hit the fleeing suspect, Smith said. The person being questioned at the fire station did not have any injuries, Smith said, adding that the shooting was not related to the traffic stop.
Clopton is the second Harris County law officer to be shot from behind in an unprovoked attack in the past year. Texas prosecutors in August charged a 30-year-old man with capital murder in the killing of sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, who was gunned down while filling his patrol car with gas in what officials described as a "senseless and cowardly act.