CEDAR HILL, Texas - Police say a man who was shot and killed by a Grand Prairie police officer after a chase late Thursday night had threatened officers with a gun.
According to the Grand Prairie Police Department, the chase started around 10:40 p.m., after an officer tried to pull a car over for a traffic violation.
The car later stopped abruptly at Highway 67 and Belt Line Rd.
Brenda Delgado works near Highway 67 and Belt Line Rd. She was surprised to see police combing the area hours after a Grand Prairie officer shot and killed the suspect.
“I was kind of shocked, very shocked,” Delgado said. “The way coming to work was blocked out because there was a whole bunch of cops. Got kind of scared because it’s really quiet around here.”
Police tried to pull Jorge Merino over in Grand Prairie, but he led them on a chase into Cedar Hill.
“The vehicle came to an abrupt stop at Hwy 67 and Belt Line Rd., at which point, officers surrounded the vehicle, tried to talk to him. The suspect presented a weapon in a threatening manner towards the officers, and a Grand Prairie police officer, in fear for officers lives, fired a duty weapon, shooting and killing the suspect,” said Chelsea Kretz, a spokeswoman for the Grand Prairie Police Department.
Police said only one officer fired at Merino.
The car was registered to a family member of Merino’s and wasn’t stolen, according to Merino’s family and police.
“The vehicle reports back to a home in Grand Prairie so we don’t believe that the vehicle is stolen. At this point, we’re not sure why the suspect fled from officers. That’s part of the investigation right now,” said Chelsea Kretz, a spokeswoman for the Grand Prairie Police Department.
Merino’s family did not want to talk on camera, but relatives say he was on his way to his parent’s house and was on the phone with them during the chase.
They could hear sirens and then a few gunshots.
His family isn’t sure why he wouldn’t stop and investigators are also trying to figure that out.
"Why he chose to run, that’s something detectives will try and determine, however, whatever a person is thinking, we can only speculate," said Raul Reyna, with the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities say Merino had two previous misdemeanor arrests in Dallas County in 2005 and 2007 for assault and DWI.
Police say a gun was recovered on scene. They’re still investigating whether it was registered to Merino.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on routine administrative leave while the case is being investigated.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and the Dallas County District Attorney's Officer-Involved Shooting team were also called to the scene to investigate.
DCSO said it is still in the process of interviewing witnesses and gathering dash cam and body camera video.
"It takes a lot of time," Reyna added. "I know people want answers right away, but the best thing to do is let the officers conduct the investigation."