Lomi Kriel and David Saleh Rauf - Express-News
Police were unclear about when the gunman shot himself, but said they heard a gunshot when tear gas was deployed around midnight.
Officer Brandy Roell, 30, who completed her cadet training Aug. 8, was airlifted to University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the back that exited her lower abdomen.
Officer Samuel Sedillo, an eight-year veteran, also was at the scene to serve the warrant but was not injured.
Both officers were coherent, able to speak to their families and undergoing surgery Monday night. Late Monday, their condition had been upgraded to stable — a development that Police Chief William McManus said caused him to breathe “a sigh of relief.”
Robarts tumbled backward but managed to drag himself out the home’s back door, where he collapsed in the yard. Roell, however, lay injured near the staircase, all as the shooter continued firing from above.
“It was like a movie scene,” said a police source who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to discuss the incident.
The violent assault was a reminder of the last time multiple police officers were shot on the same day in San Antonio, when ex-con Jamie Lichtenwalter shot four policemen at a Denny’s restaurant in 2003. Though Monday’s attack involved few officers, it happened just as quickly, and like Lichtenwalter, the shooter’s rampage appeared to be set off by relationship trouble.
Earlier, police had declined to identify the man because he has not been charged. But family members, who clustered behind the police tape, hugging each other and holding hands, identified Vargas, 43, who was an independent general contractor. Bexar County property records also list the residence as belonging to Vargas.
"He said he wouldn't ... kill himself," said Albert, another of Vargas' brothers, as he cried.
Vargas’ family, his neighbors and police sources said the shooting was a tragic encore to an incident last weekend when the gunman first aimed an AK-47 at his ex-wife and some family members.
Vargas married in 1983, court records show, and the couple had three children. But last year, after telling family members about her unhappiness in the marriage, they said she filed for divorce. It was finalized three weeks ago.
“It was all, ‘click, click, click,’.” said Jesse Apolinar, the ex-wife’s brother.
Though the house had remained silent for hours, despite police negotiators' attempts to contact Vargas, his family members sent a taped message, urging him to surrender.
“We told him we want him to come out, we want him to give up ... We love him and that everybody is waiting for him to come out,” Alex Vargas said.
Vargas never did.