HOUSTON — The search continues for the person (or people) responsible for shooting three Harris County Precinct 4 constable deputies last weekend.
Deputy Kareem Atkins and two other deputies were working an extra job at a bar in the 4400 block of the North Freeway, near Crosstimbers Street. Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said they were ambushed just after 2 a.m. Saturday when they were alerted to a possible robbery in the parking lot.
Atkins, 30, and deputy Darryl Garrett, 28, were detaining a suspect when a shooter opened fire on them from behind a vehicle, according to investigators. Both deputies were shot and deputy Juqaim Barthen, 26, rushed over when he heard the gunshots. He was also immediately shot, according to authorities. It's unclear if any of them were able to return fire.
According to authorities, Garrett, 28, was shot in the back and Barthen, 26, was shot in the foot.
The shooter has not been identified.
Friends remember Atkins
Jimmy Vitela said Atkins was like a son to him. When he moved to Houston years ago, Atkins was working at a car dealership as a salesman.
"Kareem didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve this at all," Vitela said.
According to Vitela, Atkins became an officer in College Station before joining the Precinct 4 Constable's Office.
Vitela said everyone loved Atkins everywhere he went.
"There is not a person in this world that I know that didn’t like him. You couldn’t help but like him. He was an amazing friend ... son ... he was there for you ... for anybody," Vitela said.
Vitela said Atkins wasn't just a good friend and deputy, he said he was a good father to his children and a good husband to his wife, Nadia. Vitela said Atkins always put his family first.
Atkins and his family had just bought a new house in July. They were also planning to go on a Disney trip. He only had 15 minutes left in his shift when he was killed.
"She texted him close to midnight (and said) 'babe, you're going to be so tired,'" Vitela said. "He responded to her: "that's just what dads do.'"
Vitela said one of the hardest things for Nadia has been figuring out how to tell their 2-year-old daughter that her father is dead.
"Having a hard time telling her little girl ... trying to figure out how to tell his little girl that her daddy is not coming home because she keeps asking for him. She doesn’t know how to tell her," Vitela said.
Vitela said friends and family members are left with one mission in life. They want to keep Atkins' memory alive.
"They’re going to know growing up who their father was and how much of a hero he was," Vitela said.
Helping the families
GoFundMe accounts have been set up for all three officers who were shot.
Here are the links:
Catching the killer
The Houston Police Department is leading the investigation into the deadly shooting. No arrests have been announced.
Anyone with information is asked to call Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).