LA JOYA, Texas–Yellow police tape still hung from fences as Texas rangers walked through the scene where just a day earlier a gang member had gone down in a hail of gunfire in an hours-long shootout with authorities that left two cops wounded.
Some police officers spent more than three hours pinned down by the close to 500 shots that were exchanged between authorities and 29-year-old Joaquin Cibrian, a member of the Texas Syndicate gang. Edinburg police had been looking for Cibrian for his alleged role in the execution of a 19-year-old man from Mexico.
On Wednesday, a black police SUV from La Joya riddled with bullets and with a window shot out remained at the scene of the shooting where Cibrian barricaded himself and made his fateful stand.
Prior to the shooting, La Joya police received intelligence that the suspect was in the area and coordinated with their Edinburg counterparts to corroborate the information and apprehend him, said Police Chief Giovani Hernandez in an interview with Breitbart Texas.
Once authorities arrived at the house, their target began firing at police with a semi-automatic rifle, Hernandez said.
“He gave no warning,” the chief said. “He kept shooting and shooting and shooting.”
In the initial exchange, two Edinburg police officers were shot but are expected to recover.
“My officers reverted to their training and sought cover behind their units,” Hernandez said. “As the situation got worse, they ended up getting pinned down for three hours, but they did help get the injured officers out safe.”
Texas State Troopers that arrived to assist were able to get the wounded officers out of danger, while the officers from La Joya who were pinned down came out to lay covering fire during the rescue.
Eventually, tactical teams used tear gas to draw Cibrian out from the barricaded house and neutralized him when he came out firing.
While the magnitude of the shootout is shocking, it is something that had been a long time coming, Hernandez said.
“I have been saying this for the past four years,” he said. “I kept saying that things were getting worse, would continue to get worse along the border and we needed to prepare for this. It’s the Narco-culture, the glorification of cartels and criminal activity.”
In recent years, gangs have become an ally of Mexican drug cartels, carrying out executions and other activities for hire.
“We are looking into this individual to determine if he is connected to any particular cartel,” the chief said.
After the shooting, Hernandez will increase the training for his men and will continue to look for additional grants and funding to better prepare the small city police force to deal with a worst-case scenario again.
Follow Ildefonso Ortiz @ildefonsoortiz