Update: Revised at 7:53 p.m. to include additional details about the arrest of the suspect’s wife.
Mesquite police Monday identified a 37-year-old man as the person accused of killing an officer last week during a shooting outside a grocery store.
Jamie Jaramillo, from Balch Springs, will face a charge of capital murder of a peace officer, police said. Police said he’s in stable condition at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Jaramillo’s bail amount had not been set, and it’s unclear if he has an attorney.
He’s accused of killing Officer Richard Lee Houston II, who was responding to a disturbance call on Friday about 1:40 p.m. when the shooting happened. Mesquite police have released few details about what led up to the shooting.
Late Monday, police said that the wife of the suspect had been arrested in connection with the initial disturbance. Juventina Vazques Bences, 43, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and also has an immigration hold.
Vasquez Bences is a citizen of Mexico, according to court records. She was booked into the Dallas County jail Saturday and her bail was set at $100,000. It was unclear whether she had an attorney.
Vasquez Bences reportedly followed Jaramillo to the grocery store when he went to see his girlfriend, according to KXAS-TV (NBC5). The station reported that she pointed a gun at her husband’s girlfriend, which is where the assault charge stems.
Police said she is not suspected in the shooting of Houston, only the disturbance leading up to it.
Houston was also taken to Baylor, where he died not long after arriving. Police said Monday that Houston, who was shot twice, was wearing body armor. The suspect was shot once during “an exchange of gunfire,” Mesquite police Chief David Gill has said.
The department declined to say Monday whether the suspected shooter was in a car or on foot when the shooting happened, and whether he was shot by Houston or if he shot himself.
Jaramillo would face a possible death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of capital murder. He does not appear to have a criminal background in Dallas County.
Houston was remembered over the weekend by city leaders, colleagues and others as a family man who’d led an accomplished career with Mesquite police for 21 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.
“This was a senseless act of violence that ripped a loving father and husband from his family,” Chief Gill said after the shooting.
Houston worked with the SWAT team for 10 years, as well as in the department’s criminal investigations unit, where he handled burglary, theft, homeland security, juvenile and gang cases. He’d started working with the Mesquite department in January 2001 after being named valedictorian of his graduating police class.
Throughout the weekend, people stopped outside the Mesquite Police Department to lay flowers, stuffed animals, notes and other items on a police SUV acting as a memorial to the fallen officer.
More than 1,000 people also mourned at a candlelight vigil in front of Mesquite police headquarters Sunday. A large contingent of police officers from Dallas, Garland and other cities turned out to show solidarity.
“I want to encourage you to just continue to pray for these officers and pray for our community — pray for this family,” Nick Edwards, a pastor at Community Life church in Forney, said at the vigil. “And I want to let you remind you of one more thing: that light always overcomes darkness.”
Houston is the second Mesquite officer to be killed in the line of duty. Officer Travis Williams, 28, was fatally shot on Sept. 23, 1974, after he confronted a burglar at a gas station.
Houston’s funeral is scheduled for noon Thursday at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon.
Donations to help the family may be made to the Mesquite Police Association Charities.