Update: a previous version of this article failed to point out that the suspect's dog was shot before the suspect's opened fire on police.
Houston police identified the suspects killed in Monday’s shootout that wounded multiple officers.
Harris County Clerk records show Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were a married couple who lived at the home where the shootout occurred. They've occupied the home for at least 20 years and Tuttle is the owner.
The two individuals don't have a lengthy criminal records but Nicholas was in court 10 years ago for “theft by check,” a misdemeanor. She paid a fee of $145 for that crime and Tuttle, on the other hand, appears to have no criminal record.
According to law enforcement agents, these two individuals had previously sold drugs to an undercover officer, which was the reason for the sting operation.
The reports from neighbors and family members make these two look a bit like cast members on the TV show Breaking Bad. Many were shocked that a military veteran who took the time to apply for a fishing license would be trafficking hard drugs. But neighbors also reported suspicious activity coming from the home; people knocking on the wrong door at two in the morning helped get these two onto the radar of narcotics officers, according to some reports.
HPD Chief Acevedo says a group of 15 officers arrived at the suspect's home and “immediately came under fire."
It is believed that the homeowner's pitbull was shot first.
The male suspect used a .357 Magnum revolver to hit one of the officers, forcing him to drop his shotgun.
Acevedo says, “That officer was struck in the shoulder. He went down, fell on the sofa in the living room, at which time a female suspect went towards that officer, reached over the officer and started making a move for his shotgun.”
At that moment backup officers shot and killed the female suspect. The exchange of gunfire was not captured on a body camera video.
All that being said, some very crucial questions still remain unanswered in the reports from this investigation.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this news story and what it says about our nation's war on drugs, please let me be completely clear about my something: blue lives matter. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who serve in our law enforcement agencies across the country and here in Texas. Cops work too hard and get paid too little to do their jobs and that’s why we label them heroes. Police don't get to decide what laws they enforce or what laws exist. Those decisions are made by lawmakers and other elected officials.
That said, like a lot of you, I was incredibly shaken when I heard the news about four Houston police officers being shot and another injured while investigating two now-deceased alleged drug dealers. I also have a lot of questions.
For starters: where's the black tar heroin? According to the reports, a small baggy with a white powdery substance was found in the suspect's home along with some marijuana. Our police chief says he thinks the white powdery substance was cocaine. Black tar heroin is not a white powdery substance; it’s black and, not coincidentally, tar-like. If black tar heroin was found, we haven't yet seen a report to indicate this news.
Again, I have nothing but respect for the law enforcement officers injured in this incident and the members of their families who were probably worried sick when they got the news, but I gotta ask: are we sure these two suspects were serious drug dealers? Drug dealers generally have other paraphernalia in their homes: scales, baggies, residue left over from past drug deals. Where were those things in this arrest? So far the reports indicate very little information that would suggest a high-scale drug operation was taking place. We’ll have to wait and see as more information is released.
All that said, this is just one more example of our never-ending war on drugs taking more lives and injuring good officers.