Gabriel Salinas Sullivan City, Texas commissioner shot dead in police shootout following domestic incident involving his girlfriend. Domestic incident was not the first.
A Texas city commissioner was shot dead Thursday night in an exchange of gunfire during a five hour standoff with police who had responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home.
It’s not clear how long Salinas and the victim, both age 39, had been dating before Thursday’s incident, The Monitor reports.
Authorities said two police officers tried to gain entrance into the home through the car garage after making contact with the victim.
Texas commissioner barricaded himself inside home
When officers tried again to approach the home, Salinas allegedly opened fire on authorities and forced them to retreat behind a police vehicle.
Authorities exchanged gunfire with Salinas, who retreated inside the home and barricaded himself in.
At one point, police called Salinas’ family members to the scene to coax him out of the home to no avail.
The Texas Department of Public Safety Special Response Team even used a robot holding a cell phone from Salinas’ sister to bridge communication.
But when the robot entered the home, it discovered two doors were closed and couldn’t be opened because the machine’s ‘hand’ was holding the cell phone.
The robot was removed from the home and sent back in after authorities removed the cell phone.
Heavy law enforcement equipment still at the scene this morning. Police originally responded to a domestic disturbance between Salinas, a Sullivan City commissioner, and his girlfriend. Gabriel Salinas has been confirmed dead Mission police Chief Robert Dominguez said. pic.twitter.com/94v1n6FnhZ
— Delcia Lopez (@MonitorDelcia) July 31, 2020
Trained engineer found unresponsive in pool of his own blood
That’s when the robot opened one bedroom door and found Salinas lying on the ground in a pool of blood
‘As far as I know right now, it was not a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I think he died as a result of being hit [in the exchange of gunfire],’ said Police Chief Dominguez.
He said two Mission policemen and one Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputy, had fired weapons during the standoff.
Dominguez also said Salinas, an engineer who was elected to the Mission City Commission in 2017, suffered from hemophilia.
‘Obviously, that didn’t help,’ said Dominguez.
The girlfriend underwent surgery for her wounds and remained at the hospital in an ICU unit. She is expected to recover.
Her four-year-old son was released after he received treatment for his head and knee, The Monitor reports.
An autopsy will determine whether Salinas was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Texas Rangers have taken over the investigation, which is standard protocol for police-involved shootings.
Texas Department of Public of Public Safety Sgt. Maria Montalvo said Saturday that the investigation was ongoing and referred other questions to Mission police.
Details surrounding the incident, including other potential suspects and a complete timeline, have not been publicly disclosed.
Salinas, who previously served on the La Joya school board, was arrested last year for allegedly assaulting the same girlfriend.
In September 2019, authorities responded to a 911 call regarding domestic disturbance at the home.
Officers made contact with the victim, who did not end up pursuing charges.
Salinas would have faced a class A misdemeanor assault, but Municipal Court Judge Mauro Reyna lowered the charge to class C due to the lack of evidence.
Speculation as to what may have exacerbated domestic tensions
Salinas was sentenced to time served and was released later that same day.
Dominguez speculated that the domestic incident might be connected with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
‘People have been in quarantine in their homes trying to avoid the virus and so forth, and tempers flare and sometimes, unfortunately, people don’t know how to deal with situations like that,’ he said.
But the police chief acknowledged that between March and June, there were less reported assaults this year compared to last year.
Sullivan City officials cancelled the city commissioners meeting that was scheduled last Friday.
‘It is with a heavy heart that we report the loss of City Commissioner Gabriel Salinas,’ read a statement issued by the city. ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the Salinas Family as well as with the members of his household that were injured in last night’s tragic events.’