DALLAS – An undercover officer who was shot during a gun battle between police and a group of robbery suspects outside of a Fort Worth bar that left one suspect dead has died, authorities said Friday night.
The undercover officer, Garrett Hull, died at a hospital, Fort Worth police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said at a news conference just after midnight Friday. The suspect who was killed, Dacion Steptoe, was the one who shot Hull after Steptoe and two accomplices left a bar they had just robbed, the chief said.
The two other suspects were arrested and none of the 10 people who were in the bar were hurt.
“We’ve lost a true hero,” Fitzgerald said. “Someone that dedicated more than one tour of service to this great city was senselessly killed by three known criminals, two of which are in custody now.”
During an earlier news conference, Fitzgerald said Hull was part of a team of undercover and uniformed officers that was trailing the suspects and rushed into the bar when officers discovered it was being robbed. But he later clarified that the officers, wary of endangering bystanders, waited for the three suspects outside the bar before they confronted them.
Fellow officers rushed Hull to the hospital in a squad car instead of waiting for an ambulance.
“The sacrifices our officers make go unnoticed, unfortunately, until we have a tragedy such as this,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “The shock and the grief with terrible tragedies wake people up to the fact that many of our men and women serving don’t go home.”
Fitzgerald said the crew is suspected in 17 robberies in and around Fort Worth in recent months, and that they primarily targeted Latino bars. He said the crew shot someone in the head during a recent robbery and at least one other person had been shot as well. Investigators believe the men focused on the bars under the belief that Latino victims would be less likely to report a robbery to authorities, according to a police spokesman, officer Brad Perez.
The chief didn’t release the name of one of the suspects, but he said all three have long criminal records. The surviving suspect police did identify, Samuel Mayfield, was wanted on warrants for theft, assault and drug possession.
“You had robbery suspects who tried to comingle with the crowd,” Fitzgerald said, speaking of people inside the bar who ran from the building to flee the gunfire.
He said Hull, who is survived by a wife and two daughters, was well-liked in the department and is a “rock” of the police intelligence unit, which is tasked with gathering information on suspects and contends with violent offenders. Hull, 40, has served 17 years with the department.
“I feel like I stand up here far too often and speak about officers being assaulted and officers doing their job and trying to create a safe sense of community and co-operation and collaboration in the city of Fort Worth and being victims of violent acts,” he said at the initial news conference.
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