Harris County ESD 11 Mobile Healthcare ambulances and crews are posted, like this crew on Aug. 15, 2022, throughout their 177 square miles service area including a large chuck of Houston's northwest suburbs. Harris County ESD 11 Mobile Healthcare photo.
Authorities are lauding a Texas paramedic for treating an injured Houston man who’d just shot at him.
To protect the first responder, they’re not naming him. For now, he’s described only as a Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare supervisor.
Officials believe the incident began shortly after the veteran paramedic stopped to help a distressed motorist in a silver Infiniti sedan parked half on a roadway shoulder in Houston’s northwest suburbs on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
According to incarceration records, the alleged shooter, Ronnie Craig Canupp, 33, has been booked into the Harris County Jail on a $75,000 bond after being charged with aggravated assault on a public servant.
Canupp's attorney declined to comment when contacted by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare serves patients across 177 square miles of Texas. This July 10, 2022, photo shows crews supporting Spring Fire Department personnel while they evacuate a dozen residents during a storm in Houston. Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare photo.
Investigators believe the paramedic started assessing Canupp, realized the man was in an agitated state, and returned to his SUV to contact emergency dispatchers shortly before six shots went off.
“You typically don't respond to an incident like that, where you're trying to provide assistance and then being shot at,” Harris County ESD 11 Mobile Healthcare’s community engagement officer, Jerry Thomas, told Coffee or Die. “So there was no warning. There was nothing that would have alerted him that this was a dangerous situation.”
Although the supervisor reversed his SUV and tried to dodge the bullets, at least one of the rounds penetrated his front bumper and popped a tire.
The supervisor called for both police backup and an ambulance to help him treat the suspected gunman, authorities said.
Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare serves patients across 177 square miles of Texas, including a large chunk of Houston's northwest suburbs. Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare photo.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland told Coffee or Die Canupp had still been armed with a semi-automatic pistol, hunkered down in a “defensive position behind his car,” when District 1 deputies rolled up after 4 a.m.
He initially refused to surrender but gave up after a second request, according to Gilliland. Deputies confiscated both a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle styled like an AR-15, he said.
ESD 11’s Thomas said this was the first direct firearms assault on a paramedic at the young agency, which launched on Sept.1, 2021.
“We have had medics that have been on a scene [where shots were fired] but not had anybody shoot directly at us, as this one was,” Thomas said. “But there have certainly been shots fired during previous 911 responses.”
On Feb. 21, 2022, Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare personnel were on the scene of a two-alarm fire in Houston, Texas. Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Mobile Healthcare photo.
Thomas said the supervisor had reported for work on the following shift. The district offers a strong resiliency program to “prepare our medics to the best of our ability” to maintain overall wellness, including mental health, Thomas said.
And like other agencies, the district’s paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians practice drills that simulate calls turning deadly. The idea is to prep first responders for very stressful moments, such as the Tuesday incident.
“The mental preparedness required to have a sustaining and rewarding career here is a challenge for medics,” Thomas said. “It's a stressful job.
“Every call is different, and you must be constantly aware of your surroundings, the environment you are entering, and the people you're engaged with. Situational awareness is critical and can be lifesaving.”
Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. 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 worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.
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