A heartbroken Texas community is mourning the loss of one of their beloved trailblazing police officers after he was shot and killed in what officials are calling an ambush.
Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, who gained national attention in 2015 as the first law enforcement officer in the state of Texas to wear a turban on duty in keeping with his Sikh faith, was performing a routine traffic stop on Friday when he was shot from behind and killed, local officials said.
During a press conference shortly after the fatal incident, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Major Mike Lee said that he reviewed the dashboard camera footage and nothing seemed suspicious when Dhaliwal stopped the suspect around 12:30 p.m.
“It looked to be just conversational,” Lee said, adding that Dhaliwal was speaking to the suspect with the driver’s door open. “There was no combat, no arguing. It looked like a routine traffic stop that we conduct every day.”
After their conversation, Lee said Dhaliwal closed the driver’s door and headed towards his patrol car but within seconds, was “ambushed” by the suspect, who came running at him with a gun and fired two shots from behind.
A woman who was doing yard work nearby heard the commotion and witnessed the alleged suspect flee the scene. She immediately tended to Dhaliwal and called 911, waiting with him until first responders arrived at the scene.
Lee said Dhaliwal was rushed to the hospital via life flight but sadly succumbed to his injuries shortly after.
“There are no words to convey our sadness. Please keep his family and our agency in your prayers,” he wrote on Twitter in the devastating announcement.
Meanwhile, a number of local officers circulated the suspect’s photo based on the dashboard camera footage and were allegedly able to find him inside a nearby business less than a mile away.
“A deputy observed that he looked a little nervous and put him in custody, and that did turn out to be our shooter,” Lee stated, adding that the weapon was recovered in the same parking lot of the nearby business.
Officers later identified the suspect as Robert Solis, 47, and charged him with capital murder. An unnamed female who was a passenger in the getaway vehicle was also taken into custody, Lee said.
According to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Solis had an active parole violation warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon dating back to January 2017.
At this time, it is unclear what caused Solis to allegedly shoot Dhaliwal in the back of the head.
An attorney for Solis could not immediately be located by PEOPLE.
Following the news, the Texas community expressed an outpouring of love and support for the deputy, who Gonzalez referred to as “a wonderful father, husband, son brother, friend, and last but not least, a Texas Peace Officer.”
“He’s an incredible loss not only to our @HCSOTexas family but to the entire community,” Gonzalez added of the father of three. “Deputy Dhaliwal was LOVED by this community… [and] an extraordinary individual.”
Some people shared their fondest memories of the deputy, posting videos and photos alongside him.
Next to a video of Dhaliwal letting a young boy who was deaf “arrest” him, Lee wrote, “This video captures the essence of who Deputy Dhaliwal was. He touched countless of lives along the way. A legacy that will never be forgotten. We will aspire to be as good as he was.”