Criminal complaint: Suspect 'ambushed' EPPD officers outside taco restaurant

Criminal complaint Suspect ambushed...

EL PASO, Texas - The man who allegedly shot an El Paso Police officer in the hand "ambushed" a pair of police officers when they pulled into the parking lot of a South Central El Paso taco restaurant, a criminal complaint obtained by ABC-7 states.

El Paso Police charged 41-year-old Ricardo Cereceres with two counts of attempted capital murder. The bond for the capital murder charges is $2-million, but Cereceres is jailed without bond on a felony probation warrant stemming from federal weapons charges, police said. 

The shooting happened shortly after 12 p.m. on December 11, 2018 near Seville and Sambrano in South Central El Paso.  Police originally said the police officers were responding to a "suspicious person" call when they encountered Cereceres, who allegedly exited a vehicle and fired a weapon at the officers.

The criminal complaint affidavit, however, states police officers R. Bermudez and E. Villalobos were patrolling the 5900 block of Alameda when they observed Cereceres walking out of a convenience store. The officers turned around in an attempt to approach Cereceres, the document states. "As the officers approached, Cereceres threw some items from a plastic bag," prompting the officers to turn on the lights of the marked police unit, the document states.

Cereceres allegedly ran away from the officers and hid in the parking lot of a Tacos Don Cuco restaurant. The officers lost visual contact of the suspect as he hid in the restaurant's parking lot, the court document states. Bermudez and Villalobos then drove into the restaurant's parking lot and parked next to the building. "Before the officers could exit the patrol unit, Cereceres fired several rounds at the officers and the marked patrol unit, striking the patrol unit" the criminal complaint states.

The document further states the police officers returned fire at Cereceres and crashed behind the restaurant as they attempted to maneuver the patrol unit. Cereceres allegedly ran away from the scene, but not before he was observed by multiple witnesses.

Police said officer F. Bermudez, later identified by police as Felipe Bermudez, suffered a gunshot wound on the hand. Bermudez was treated and released from the hospital that same day. Police said Bermudez is the same officer who appeared in several episodes of the A&E series "Live PD."

A witness who spoke with police in the aftermath of the shooting said Cereceres was hiding and taking cover behind a rock wall. When the officers pulled into the restaurant's parking lot, the witness said, Cereceres fired his weapon at the officers in an "ambush style attack."

The manhunt for Cereceres lasted several hours. Police first obtained images of the suspect from the surveillance cameras of businesses in the area. A woman who said she was Cereceres' mother then called police dispatch to report she had just received a call from her son. The man allegedly told his mother he was involved in a police investigation, but did not provide further details, the criminal complaint states.  Police obtained the identity of the caller by researching the phone number used to contact police dispatch. 

Police then spoke with a witness, identified in the document as Esparza, who provided them with the name, contact number and last known address of the man who allegedly shot the police officers. The court document does not clarify whether Esparza is Cereceres' mother.  With that information, police identified Cereceres as the suspect who shot the police officer. "Investigators obtained booking photos of Cereceres and verified (Cereceres) as the same person seen in the (surveillance images)," the court document states.

Police arrested Cereceres, a.k.a. Ricardo Herrera, after a SWAT standoff at a residence located on the 100 block of North Clark.  Crisis management team made contact with the suspect but he refused to come out. After several hours, SWAT fired a gas into the residence to force Cereceres out. The suspect was arrested shortly after 8 p.m., about eight hours after the shooting in South Central El Paso. 

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