LUBBOCK, Texas — On March 27 2019, 40-year-old Leonardo Gallegos Jr., a registered sex offender, failed to turn with a signal in downtown Levelland.
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, who were following not too far behind, began to attempt to make a traffic stop.
“Once we’ve passed several places we could’ve stopped, then you start thinking we’ve got a subject that’s trying to evade,” said DPS Sergeant Johnny Bures.
Gallegos Jr. then led troopers out of Levelland and into rural Cochran County on a high-speed chase. According to an investigation conducted by the Texas Rangers, Gallegos Jr. called his girlfriend to inform her that he would be willing to do what he could to not go back to jail.
Gallegos Jr. had two felony arrest warrants out for his arrest.
40 minutes into the chase, DPS deployed their helicopter to assist troopers who are having a hard time to stop Gallegos Jr.
“It’s tough to see when you’re that vehicle that’s behind and getting dusk kicked up in our view,” said Bures. “The helicopter is able to zoom into the cab tell us that the subject is loading up a weapon.”
Shortly after the helicopter was deployed, spike strips were deployed and the two front tires on Gallegos’ 2006 Chevy Colorado become disabled.
At 6:06 p.m., Gallegos loaded a pump shotgun from his truck and began shooting at troopers.
Troopers returned fire, approximately firing 193 rounds at Gallegos Jr.’s truck. The final investigation revealed that only four bullets struck Gallegos Jr.
“It will seem like a lot of rounds but in actuality, not a lot of those penetrated him,” said Bures. “It’s not for a lack of bad shooting or anything, but there were a lot of articles blocking the view of our troopers.”
Troopers approached Gallegos Jr.’s truck to neutralize the situation. Troopers pulled him out the vehicle to perform first aid.
The 40-year-old was pronounced dead the scene.
Bures added that while a life was tragically lost, the chase could’ve ended much worse without the support of their helicopter.
“What if the pursuit had gone into a busier area an the evading suspect ran a red light and hit a family?” said Bures. “We use these helicopters and fixed winger airplanes for the preservation of life.”
The Texas Rangers’ investigation concluded no wrongdoing on part of any of the officers involved in the chase.
“Had we just stopped and pulled over, then he would’ve had to answer for the warrants he had,” said Bures. “But everyone would’ve been okay.”