A man who hijacked a transit bus in Texas and was killed in a shootout with police over the weekend was also a suspect in his girlfriend’s recent murder.
Ramon Thomas Villagomez, 31, hijacked a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (or DART) bus Sunday morning, holding its driver at gunpoint, the Garland Police Department said in a statement.
The bus driver was a 65-year-old man, NBC DFW reports. There was also a female passenger on the bus.
DART officers attempted to get the bus to halt after a weapons disturbance was reported.
“The bus did not stop and the gunman began firing at the officers,” police wrote in their statement. “A DART officer was struck by gunfire in the leg.”
Soon, a chase was underway on the President George Bush Turnpike. Garland Police Department joined the DART police and together they pursued the bus through multiple cities: through Dallas, Richardson, Garland, and Rockwall County.
“During the chase, the suspect fired numerous times at the pursuing officers, striking multiple police vehicles,” police wrote. “One of the rounds penetrated the front windshield of a Garland Police car and struck a Garland Officer in the neck.”
As the bus entered Rowlett, the authorities were able to put down spike strips, which disabled the bus on the freeway. It also led to Villagomez’s death.
“When the bus stopped, the gunman exited the bus with his weapon in hand and was engaged by the pursing [sic] officers,” police wrote. “The suspect was struck by gunfire and was incapacitated.”
Villagomez died soon after at a hospital.
Both the DART officer and the Garland Police officer who were shot sustained non-life threatening injuries. Both were treated at a hospital and are expected to recover.
The bus driver and passenger were not injured, though the driver was reportedly shaken up.
“When he [the bus driver] got up this morning, I’m sure he felt like he was going out to face this virus,” Kenneth Day, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1338, told NBC DFW. “He was already fearful when he got up this morning to go to work. I’m sure he was afraid, but he did not expect this was going to happen.”
Villagomez was a suspect in the recent murder of his girlfriend, Catherine Menendez, 41. She died of “multiple sharp force injuries” in San Antonio earlier this month, KSAT reported in early April.
Villagomez was also wanted for an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in relation to an incident involving a relative in Brazoria County, according to police.
"There was an immediate threat and danger to people on the bus that's why we were pursuing this vehicle. You could not ask for a worse situation," Garland Lt. Pedro Barineau told reporters after the incident. "You have a situation where somebody has taken the driver of a bus hostage, is shooting at the police as we are pursuing him and there's people around all over the road."
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