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Good Friday tragedy: Police officer slain at Texas Wal-Mart

April 06, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Reporting from Houston — A police officer was shot and killed at an Austin, Texas, Wal-Mart in the early hours of Good Friday, authorities said.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told The Times that Officer Jaime Padron responded to a call about a drunk man inside the store at about 2:20 a.m. local time. Padron, 40, didn't even have a chance to draw his weapon before he was shot in the throat and chest, Acevedo said.

"The suspect produced a semi-automatic pistol and shot the officer at point-blank range," Acevedo said.

Padron's bulletproof vest blocked the chest shot, Acevedo said, but not the shot to his throat.

At the back of the store, Pedro Garcia and roommate Sapna Sharma were shopping when they heard the gunfire, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

"I felt like something fell really hard," Sharma said.

Officials said that as Padron lay wounded, he used his police radio to call for help. While other officers sped to the store, two Wal-Mart employees tackled the armed suspect, whose identity has not been released, holding him until police arrived, Acevedo said.

"We believe these people are heroes," Acevedo said. "Those Wal-Mart employees took their own lives and placed them at risk to come to the aid of the officer and other employees and customers."

One of the arriving officers attempted to give Padron CPR as paramedics treated him, but the wounded officer was pronounced dead at 2:44 a.m., Acevedo said.

Acevedo said Padron had been with the department for about three years and had previously worked for an airport police department and the San Angelo Police Department.

Padron, a native of San Angelo, Texas, is survived by his ex-wife; two daughters, ages 10 and 6, and his parents, Acevedo said.

"It was a tough day for the family," the chief said at a Friday news briefing. "It is a tragedy on Good Friday to lose an officer like this; there's a lot of officers who are devastated. When we're supposed to be celebrating life, we are mourning one of our officers."

The suspect was in custody Friday morning, and police are expected to release more information about him at a briefing scheduled for 4 p.m. CDT.

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