The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
If something was amiss at 3818 29th St., Faye Smith never noticed it.
Smith rarely interacted with her neighbors, but she would often see people coming and going from the small white house.
“The only thing I’ve ever heard them do was mow their grass,” Smith said.
But at 8:34 a.m., after receiving a family disturbance call at the address, Officers Donald Suarez and Kacey Frank arrived to find resident Rosa Flores/Lopez, 50, wielding a knife, which they ordered her to lower. When she refused, the officers deployed a Taser with no effect, Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton said at a Friday press conference.
When Flores/Lopez raised and extended the knife, threatening the officers, Frank fired a single shot that hit her in the arm and the chest. Flores/Lopez died at the scene. There were no other injuries.
Both Suarez and Frank have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, internal Affairs and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Marc Derouen has ordered an autopsy, Blanton said.
Smith said she believes Flores/Lopez grew confused during the altercation, which may have precipitated the fatal shooting.
“Something bad here happened that shouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Somebody on the other side got a little trigger happy.”
However, Blanton said, this was not the police department’s first encounter at this address — Flores/Lopez had a history of minor assault charges and mental illness. Neighbor Humberto Galvan said she had exhibited bizarre behavior in the past.
“I’d see her almost naked, in the street,” said Galvan, who has lived in the house next door to Flores/Lopez since 2011. “She’d walk around singing and dancing, talking to herself.”
On Thursday, Oct. 31, Galvan said he heard voices around 5:30 p.m., arguing. He was able to discern that Flores/Lopez had broken all the windows in a van that belonged to one of the residents.
“She was not right,” Galvan said.
Blanton said it is uncommon for officers to pull the trigger on the job. They only do so when their lives, or the life of another person, are endangered.
“That’s the only time you’re allowed to use deadly force,” he said.