First Responders

Lawmen Ambushed Outside Texas Tavern; 1 Dead, 2 Wounded

October 19, 2021Joshua Skovlund
Texas tavern

A gunshot wound to the head killed Harrison County Constable Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Kareem Anthony Atkins on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Houston, Texas. Composite courtesy of Harrison County Constable Precinct 4.

Authorities have announced funeral arrangements for a deputy constable killed last week while moonlighting at a Texas tavern.

Harrison County Constable Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Kareem Anthony Atkins died in Houston during an ambush on the night of Saturday, Oct. 16, while he attempted to nab a robbery suspect. The shooting wounded two other deputies.

Atkins, 30, recently returned from paternity leave. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

His viewing will begin at 11 a.m. Monday at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. The funeral service starts at 2 p.m. Klein Funeral Homes and Memorial Parks is handling the arrangements.

During a Sunday morning press conference alongside Precinct 4 Constable Mark Harris, Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief James Jones told reporters Atkins died while working a “police-related extra job” with two other deputy constables — Darryl Garrett, 28, and Juqaim Barthen, 26 — at the 45 Norte Sports Bar on the north side of the city.

Following a report of a robbery in the tavern’s parking lot, Atkins and Garrett located a suspect and began arresting him when a second person apparently opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle.

Barthen rushed from the bar toward the sounds of gunfire and took a round to the foot.

Atkins’ head wound was fatal. Having been rushed to surgery with a gunshot wound to his back, Garrett is listed as in critical condition at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in downtown Houston. 

Barthen’s wound was described as non-life-threatening.

Each member of the security detail had fewer than five years of experience in policing. Jones said it remained unclear whether the deputies returned fire.

Authorities said Saturday that they had a “person of interest” in custody, but officials haven’t elaborated on whether the individual was a witness to the ambush or the suspected gunman.

No arrests have been made.

Texas tavern
A victim of COVID-19, Houston Police Department Senior Officer John Wilbanks, 55, was buried Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, in Texas. He became the second Houston Police Department officer killed by the virus. Photo courtesy of the Houston Police Department.

Atkins’ killing occurred two days before the Monday burial of Houston Police Department Senior Officer John Wilbanks, who died last week from COVID-19 complications.

Wilbanks, 55, became the second Houston Police Department officer killed by the virus. 

“This is a terrible time. We’ve been through it, unfortunately, very recently,” Jones told reporters Sunday. “It never gets any easier. I know how they must be feeling, or at least I think I do. It just doesn’t get any easier.” 

A member of the Houston Police Department since mid-1994, Wilbanks was assigned to the Special Operations Division.

“All of HPD mourns the loss of Officer Wilbanks and we ask the entire city of Houston to join us in lifting his family in prayer,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said in a prepared statement released on social media Wednesday. “Today, we lost a man who is the epitome of what it is to be a public servant.”

Read Next: Navy Prepares To Discharge Sailors Who Don’t Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.

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