Man charged in Texas police chief's slaying; investigators looking into suspect's background

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Joshua Manuel Lopez is seen in an undated photo provided by the Bexar County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office. Bexar County Sheriff’s Office’s Rosanne Hughes said Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, that Lopez, 24, has been charged in connection with the death of Police Chief Michael Pimentel of Elmendorf, Texas. Pimentel was making a stop Saturday to serve an active misdemeanor warrant for graffiti, when an assailant fired, hitting the chief several times in the shoulder and abdomen. (AP Photo/Bexar County Sheriff’s Office)


LUBBOCK, Texas — A 24-year-old Texas man has been charged in the shooting death of a small-town police chief, a sheriff's spokeswoman said Sunday.

Joshua Manuel Lopez faces a charge of capital murder of a police officer in the killing of Elmendorf Police Chief Michael Pimentel, said Bexar County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Rosanne Hughes.

Pimentel was shot in the shoulder and abdomen while making a stop Saturday to serve an active misdemeanor warrant for graffiti. He was flown to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators are looking into Lopez's background, Hughes said.

Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said Saturday that Lopez had "some kind of history" with the Elmendorf Police Department but she didn't know its nature.

"We're still investigating the circumstances to determine what was the individual's state of mind, what else was going on," she said. "Those kinds of things certainly will come out in our investigation."

Lopez, who was charged Saturday night, remained in the Bexar County Adult Detention Center on a $1 million bond Sunday. Information about whether he has an attorney was unavailable, and attempts to reach relatives were unsuccessful.

Pamerleau said Pimentel had called another officer to "come provide cover" before he approached Lopez. But, she said, the shooting had occurred by the time the officer arrived.

Lopez was taken into custody without incident, Pamerleau said.

The 60-year-old Pimentel had been chief of Elmendorf for about 18 months, she said. The town has around 1,500 residents and is about 25 miles southeast of San Antonio.

A neighbor told the San Antonio Express-News that Lopez is a quiet loner who often dressed in black trench coats, even in the summer.

"He's so quiet that I was surprised to know it was him," said Maria Rios, who added that she baby-sat Lopez when he was a child.

Elmendorf Mayor Evelyn Lykins said she thinks residents are "going to have a hard week" coping with the shooting.

"Today it's really sinking in," she said Sunday.

Pimentel is the fifth law enforcement officer to die in Texas this year, said Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Three of the five were killed by gunfire. Last year, 13 officers died in the line of duty in the state.

Pamerleau said Pimentel's death "reinforces that the dangers that our law enforcement officers face every day, here in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood of a small town in South Texas, in an instant could turn into tragedy, as it did."


AP Radio reporter Jackie Quinn in Washington contributed to his report.

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