Mayor says: ‘Looking into the hell of heartbreak’

By Molly Evans and

Eric Aasen/KERA News

One Dallas police officer has died from his injuries and a second remains in critical condition after they were shot while trying to remove a man from a Home Depot in Northeast Dallas Tuesday afternoon.

In a City Council meeting Wednesday morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced that Officer Rogelio Santander, a three-year veteran of the force, died just after 8 a.m.

“It is with great sadness that we must inform you that Officer Rogelio Santander, Badge No. 10934, passed away at 8:11 this morning from his injuries,” Rawlings said. “We ask that you please continue to pray for Officer Santander’s family and our department as we all try to cope with this tragic loss.”

Rawlings said officer Crystal Almeida, also on the force for three years, remains in critical condition. He asked for continued prayers for her recovery and a moment of silence for Santander.

Scott Painter, a loss-prevention officer for Home Depot, who was also shot Tuesday, remains in critical condition as well. All three wounded underwent surgery for their injuries at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

In a brief update outside the hospital Wednesday morning, Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall said both Almeida and Painter are making “remarkable” recoveries.

Armando Juárez, 29, has been charged with capital murder and faces additional charges, including aggravated assault on a public servant. Juárez was taken into custody shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday after leading law enforcement on a high-speed car chase. Officers had spent several hours searching for Juárez after he had apparently fled the scene in a white truck.

He’s being held at the Dallas County jail on a bond in excess of $1 million.

An arrest warrant indicates Juárez was detained by store officials at the Home Depot because he was acting suspiciously and may have tried to steal from the store.

The warrant reveals an officer, who was working a part-time job at the store Tuesday, learned Juárez had an outstanding felony warrant after he was detained.

Two on-duty officers, Almeida and Santander, were called to the store and, along with a store security officer, were speaking with Juárez in the loss-prevention office.

The off-duty officer stepped away and when the officer returned to the office he found all three on the ground with gunshot wounds.

Police body-camera footage shows Juárez pulling a handgun from his pocket as Almeida and Santander attempted to take him into custody.

Shortly after the shooting, Rawlings said it is sobering to realize how quickly police officers can become victims.

“Once again, Dallas is at the precipice looking into the hell of heartbreak as our police department was attacked,” the Dallas mayor said. “I continue to be upset at the lack of respect of our police in this city and in our country.”

For information on how to donate to the families of fallen officers, visit the Assist the Officer Foundation at atodallasrelief.firstresponder processing.com.

The Associated Press and Nancy Black contributed to this report.

As storms moved through the area late Wednesday afternoon, the public began a memorial at the Dallas Police Department’s Northeast Substation for its fallen officer. Photo by Nancy Black

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