On Saturday evening, Aug. 20, 2011, the Texas Department of Public Safety received a report that a Ford F-350 pickup had been stolen at gunpoint from Runnels County. The pickup was last seen traveling north on Texas Highway 153 near the community of Wingate in northern Runnels County.
In Nolan County, Texas Highway 153 connects with Texas Highway 70, about 10 miles south of Sweetwater. At about 8 p.m. a Texas Highway patrol trooper observed the pickup traveling north on Texas 70 and attempted to stop the vehicle. The driver of the stolen pickup began to evade the troopers. Stop sticks were set up near the city limits of Sweetwater. The fleeing driver avoided the stop sticks and attempted to run over the assisting trooper.
The stolen pickup continued into Sweetwater where it rear-ended one vehicle — sending the driver to the emergency room — and struck two utility poles. The pickup continued an additional five blocks before becoming disabled in a parking lot in the 1000 block of Lamar Street. Texas Highway 70 is Lamar Street inside the Sweetwater city limits. Law enforcement units approached the driver as he exited the stolen pickup. The driver put his hand under his shirt and advanced toward the officers in a threatening manner. Troopers ordered the driver to the ground and to stop his aggression multiple times, but the suspect refused to comply. Law enforcement officers moved to a position of cover as the suspect entered one of the highway patrol units, where weapons are located. One of the troopers and one of the officers with Sweetwater Police Department shot the suspect. Judge Sharon Gardner pronounced the subject dead at the scene.
The suspect has been identified as Jesse Daniel Torres, 33 year of age from Winters. Torres had a blue warrant issued for his arrest for a parole violation. This incident is being investigated by Texas Ranger Philip Vandygriff.
Sweetwater Chief of Police Jim Kelley spoke on the chain of events that occurred on Saturday. “This was just a horrible situation for everyone involved — for Torres, his family, the officers involved and the community. We were very fortunate that no others were injured in the incident given the suspect’s high rate of speed upon entering Sweetwater.”
Kelley stated that Torres reached speeds up to 100 miles per hour in the city limits.
As for the officers involved in the shooting, Kelley states that they will be put on the normal administrative leave. “We will support them in any way that we can.”