WATCH: Neighbors capture moments of terror, courage from Thursday’s SWAT standoff

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LEVELLAND, Texas (KCBD) - Most residents of the Levelland neighborhood surrounding the site of Thursday’s SWAT standoff were told to evacuate as the situation escalated, but some stayed behind, not realizing how serious things were until it was too late.

Neighbors described the events as “intense, scary, and surreal” as shots were fired just yards away from where they call home.

While police ducked for cover, Rebeca Peralez and her boyfriend Tony Cruz could see and hear everything from their front window.

Their video captures the intensity of the standoff, just moments after five officers were shot, including Sgt. Josh Bartlett, who later died at the hospital.

Tony Cruz was watching events from his home, taking cover with his family.

“We rushed here to make sure our daughter was fine. By that time they were already cornering off all the area. We couldn’t move. We couldn’t get out,” Cruz said.

Tony’s girlfriend, Rebeca Peralez, wasn’t surprised to see police on the block.

Peralez said, “We see cops drive by, but that’s mainly at nighttimes. So when he said there were cops here, I was like, oh that’s nothing new.”

But when things took a serious turn, they sought shelter inside.

“I saw them get behind the cars and stuff and then you hear the bullets ricochet. You could hear them going out every which way,” Cruz said.

They say the suspect kept shooting at anything or anyone that moved, including paramedics trying to save the wounded officers.

As night fell, they lost electricity, as police cut the power.

They heard the shouting of the final confrontation just before midnight.

“They were telling him to get on his knees and put his hands up,” Cruz said.

Once it was quiet, they knew it was over, more than 10 hours later.

Cruz says he was blown away by the bravery he saw up close and personal.

“The men and women who were here yesterday, I didn’t see fear in anybody’s eyes. They were determined to get the job done,” Cruz said.

Today police are tagging physical evidence, like police cars and bullet fragments, while the Texas Rangers have interviewed neighbors to learn more about the suspect, 22-year-old Omar Soto-Chavira.

We’re told the investigation could go well into Friday night.

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