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Texas officer killed, 4 others injured in standoff

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A Texas sheriff’s sergeant was killed and four other officers were injured when a man barricaded in a house fired on them during a standoff Thursday, police said.

Police in Levelland, west of Lubbock, were called to the home shortly after 1 p.m. after someone reported their neighbor was acting strange and walking around with a large gun, police Chief Albert Garcia said.

Officers held back and a police negotiator was called in. Police made contact, but the man inside “was very hostile” and said he did not want to talk to officers, Garcia said.

“It was only a matter of minutes after that contact that the suspect opened the front door to the residence and began firing,” Garcia said.

Lubbock County sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Bartlett, commander of the SWAT team, was shot and killed shortly after 2 p.m., the sheriff’s office said.

Four other law enforcement officers were injured, authorities said. The most seriously injured was a Levelland police officer who was rushed to a hospital and underwent surgery, Garcia said. That officer is out of surgery and was in critical condition but was stable, he said.

The standoff and barricade situation was ongoing Thursday night. The suspect was not identified.

Police don’t believe that there is anyone else besides the gunman in the home, Garcia said.

Police from other agencies, as well as the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, were assisting, he said.

Garcia called it a violent and volatile situation, and he said people should avoid the area.

Authorities know who is inside the home.

“Have we had prior contact with this person? Yes, we have. He is known to our agencies,” Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres said, but he declined to elaborate.

The barricaded man may have encountered a Texas Highway Patrol trooper earlier in the day, Garcia said.

The trooper reported that around 11 a.m. he was at a traffic stop when a person driving recklessly in a white Chevy truck “appeared to be trying to bait him into some type of confrontation,” Garcia said.

That driver appeared to be heading to Levelland, and police looked for the truck but did not find it. When officers arrived at the home, they saw the pickup that had been reported in the driveway, Garcia said.

Bartlett, who had been with the sheriff’s department for nine years, had a wife and children, and was an Army veteran who served several tours overseas, Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.

“Our hearts, my heart and I know the entire country is with his wife and kids this evening,” Rowe said.

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