San Antonio, TX – Police have admitted that they shot and killed an elderly woman in an attempt to kill her mentally ill son during a standoff last month, an apparent mix-up they blamed on the fact that both mother and son were wearing red shirts.
Amelia Huron-Macias, 84, was killed when she was hit with a barrage of bullets fired into her home by SWAT team members during an hours-long standoff in which officers claimed they were targeting her son, Fernando Macias.
The Bexar County Mental Health Unit was initially called to execute a mental health warrant for Macias on March 6. Sheriff Javier Salazar told the San Antonio Express-News that relatives reported that they were concerned about Macias’ mental state.
“The relatives were worried,” Salazar said. “He was not in a condition to care for himself, much less to care for the elderly lady and her needs.”
After officers obtained a warrant, they attempted to force their way into the two-story house through the back door. While the basis for the warrant is unclear, a report from KSAT News claimed that when officers tried to enter, Macias “refused to come out of the home and he fired at them, wounding two deputies.”
While most people would think that if an individual shot two officers, police would stop at nothing until he is caught, a report from the Texas Department of Public Safety claimed that police actually left the house and returned 15 hours later, and the officers were aware that Macias was inside with his mother.
"The relief plan included the introduction of diversionary devices into the second-floor of the residence where Fernando was last observed. At this point, Fernando had not been heard from or observed in approximately 15 hours. It was the intent, the introduction of diversionary devices through second-floor windows would result in increased visibility into the residence, providing information and the location of Fernando and Amelia.”
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Officers said they believed Macias was wearing a red shirt, and when shots were fired from inside the house, they began returning gunfire, even though they believed the shots were coming from a window covered with blinds, and they could not see who they were targeting.
It was only when police broke a glass door and sent a drone into the house that they realized the target in a red shirt they believed they were firing at was actually Amelia Huron-Macias. Her dead body was found with multiple gunshot wounds from the rifles and shotguns used by police.
"It appeared Amelia had sustained multiple gunshot wounds," the DPS report said. "Fernando was also located on the second-floor, near Amelia's location, and was taken into custody. Fernando had also sustained multiple gunshot wounds, but was alive."
Fernando Macias is now facing three counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer after the bullets he fired injured two officers and hit the shield worn by a third officer.
This case serves as a reminder that police officers desperately need thorough training before dealing with individuals who are mentally ill. As The Free Thought Project has reported, individuals who suffer from mental health issues have a 1,600% higher chance of being killed by police. This can be explained by the fact that most officers receive extensive training on how to accurately shoot their weapons, but very little training on de-escalation tactics or methods for dealing with the mentally ill.
In this case, it appears that Macias was either holding his mother hostage, or she was physically unable to leave the house without assistance. This is also not the first time police have recklessly killed the victim in a hostage situation in their attempt to take out the suspect.
In a recent example, an innocent father in Houston, Texas, was tied up and taken hostage by men who claimed they were with “the cartel.” He was held in a crowded house, which FBI agents raided after conducting thorough surveillance. However, the same agents who were supposed to rescue him were the ones who shot and killed him upon entering the house and finding him tied to a chair. The criminals who originally kidnapped him left unharmed.
The officers who were present in San Antonio were aware that Fernando Macias was mentally ill, and they were also aware that his mother was in the home with him and she had no way to escape. Yet they chose to unleash a barrage of bullets on the home, and the person they killed was the innocent victim they should have protected at all costs.