Accused Levelland Shooter Federally Charged
The man who allegedly shot and killed a SWAT officer during a standoff in Levelland, Texas earlier this month has been charged with assaulting a federal officer who responded to the scene, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.
Omar Soto-Chavira, 22, was charged via criminal complaint on Friday with one count of forcibly assaulting a federal officer engaged in the performance of official duties. Mr. Soto-Chavira has also been charged by the state with capital murder.
“The state acted swiftly to charge Mr. Soto-Chavira in the murder of Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Josh Bartlett. Were Mr. Soto-Chavira to post the $500,000 bond set in the state case, he would be immediately transferred to federal custody, where criminal defendants can be detained without bond, ” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah. “We believe this defendant is a threat to the community, and needs to be kept behind bars. We mourn the loss of Sgt. Bartlett, who served with honor for nine years, and we pray for the other officers who were wounded in the standoff, including Sgt. Shawn Wilson.”
Local law enforcement has confirmed that during the almost 11-hours standoff, the defendant repeatedly opened fire at agents and officers. Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Josh Bartlett was shot in the neck and killed; Levelland Police Sgt. Shawn Wilson was shot in the head and rushed to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition; and two other officers were also shot and wounded.
Though the federal criminal complaint against Mr. Soto-Chavira remains sealed, the federal arrest warrant was unsealed shortly after it was filed this morning.
A complaint is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Like all defendants, Mr. Soto-Chavira is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If convicted in the federal case, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison. He faces a potential death sentence if convicted on state charges.
The Levelland Police Department, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT, and Lubbock Police Department SWAT conducted the investigation with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, and the Hockley County District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long is prosecuting the federal case.