Recent police shootings in San Antonio ‘may be an anomaly,’ Criminology professor says

Dr. Jeff Bumgarner not surprised most of the shootings involved people with warrants or criminal history

SAN ANTONIO – Unusual. That’s how a criminology professor describes the string of shootings of San Antonio police officers.

In the past two weeks, five officers were wounded and four suspects shot by officers. In one case, an officer shot himself while pursuing an armed suspect.

Texas State University Criminology Professor Dr. Jeff Bumgarner said it’s unusual to have nearly five shootouts involving police officers in two weeks. Nationwide, there has been a rise of officers shot and killed by gunfire. None of the officers in San Antonio were killed.

“I’m just saying that that two-week period was unusual. You know, it may be an anomaly, and we hope it is,” Bumgarner said.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that tracks officers killed in the line of duty nationwide, in 2019 and 2020 upwards of 40 officers were killed by gunfire. In 2021 and 2022, just over 60 fatalities.

Officers killed by gunfire nationwide, yearly

  • 2019-51
  • 2020-46
  • 2021-63
  • 2022-61

Bumgarner believes this uptick is linked to the George Floyd protests and what he sees as dehumanizing of police officers.

“People forget that cops have families and dreams and hopes and things just like anybody else. And that they’re, you know, in most cases, doing the very best they can in a tough situation,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner was not surprised that most of the shootings involved people with warrants or a criminal history.

“The best prediction of future behavior is past behavior,” Bumgarner said.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said those suspects should have been in jail, but the Bexar County District Attorney argues the cases did not have enough evidence to move forward.

Bumgarner said convictions are based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt and not a perfect case.

“Suddenly, cases that always flew in the past and met legal muster are suddenly being rejected. Not by a judge or a jury, but by the DA. You’ve got to ask, ‘What’s going on at the DA’s office?’” Bumgarner said.

Police Shootings Timeline

  • Aug. 24 -Jesse Garcia, 28, allegedly shot at San Antonio police officers and wounded three of them. He was arrested after barricading himself inside an apartment for hours. The two most seriously injured officers were Officer Raul Chavez and Officer Rhett Shoquist, who was shot in the head. Both survived and have been released from the hospital. SWAT Officer Adam Rule was struck in the forearm by a round fired through the patrol vehicle’s window. A light affixed to the shoulder of a fourth officer — Josue Vallejo-Martinez — was struck by gunfire, but the officer was uninjured.
  • Aug. 30 - Michael Kirkland, 40, opened fire at drivers and police officers on an East Side highway and was killed by police, according to SAPD. Officer J. Owen was shot and hospitalized.
  • Aug. 30 - Officer John Helle accidentally shot himself during a foot chase where officers fatally shot 21-year-old Victor Fernandes in a Home Depot parking lot.
  • Sept. 4 - Officers Juan Dominguez and Matthew Raste shot and killed Jacob String during a pursuit on the Southeast Side near Southcross and Prestwick.
  • Sept. 5 - A San Antonio police officer was shot on the city’s Southwest Side near the 200 block of Iroquois Street. Suspect Dominick Rubio was arrested and charged with attempted capital murder of a police officer, violation of bond and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

About the Authors:

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.