Hector Mercado's wife and sons pleaded with a sheriff's deputy not to take him to jail Sunday night. By this morning, they were behind bars in connection with the shooting of an Oklahoma City police officer.
Alex Mercado, 16, Hector Escalante, 18, and Vilma Escalante, 52, were arrested on complaints of shooting with intent to kill in an attack on officer Katie Lawson, 27. Lawson suffered gunshot wounds to her face, body and legs about 10:45 p.m. Sunday following a traffic stop near NW 38 and N Miller Avenue, according to an arrest affidavit filed today in Oklahoma County District Court.
Police found an AR-15 rifle under loose floorboards in a bedroom of their home, according to the affidavit. They also found a shotgun, pistol and ammunition.
While alone in an interrogation room, where they apparently did not realize they were being watched by a surveillance camera and bilingual police detective, Alex Mercado and Hector Escalante chatted about the incident in Spanish and English. Escalante said he was going to confess to police, but Alex Mercado told him not to and told him he'd hidden the gun where police couldn't find it.
Escalante then asked Alex Mercado if he had washed his hands before police swabbed them at the scene to look for gunpowder and other residue, the affidavit states. Alex Mercado said he hadn't and began spitting on his hands and wiping them on the interview room wall.
The incident began when an Oklahoma County sheriff's deputy tried to pull over Hector Mercado, 42, about 10:20 p.m. Sunday in northwest Oklahoma City, officials said. Mercado didn't stop until about 10 minutes later when he reached his house at 2705 NW 38. The deputy asked Lawson to assist him in the traffic stop, police inspector Ryan Porter wrote in the affidavit.
Vilma Escalante is Mercado's wife, and Alex Mercado and Hector Escalante are his sons. Porter wrote in the affidavit they pleaded with police to release Hector Mercado during the traffic stop. Witnesses told police they spoke in Spanish, saying they needed to get Mercado out of the police car, and then Hector Escalante and Alex Mercado went inside their house.
Lawson drove away from the traffic stop in her patrol car and pulled behind a nearby closed business on NW 39, according to the affidavit. She saw a Hispanic male standing near a privacy fence near the business and radioed dispatchers that she was stopping to talk to him.
The person near the fence then raised a rifle and fired multiple shots at Lawson, who returned fire, Porter wrote. The person stopped firing and ran into the backyard of the home shared by the Escalantes and Mercados.
Shortly thereafter police detained the younger Mercado and the Escalantes when officers saw a magazine to an assault-style rifle on the kitchen table of the home, the affidavit states. Officers took the three of them, along with Hector Mercado, to police headquarters for interviews and got a search warrant for the house.
Lawson is a four-year veteran officer, police Capt. Patrick Stewart said. The officer was heard on a scanner saying, "I have been shot," and requesting an ambulance.
"Fortunately, she is in good condition right now," Stewart said. Lawson was taken to OU Medical Center, which listed her in good condition late today.
Investigators marked several shell casings in a parking lot on the north side of a stockade fence and just west of where Lawson's patrol car remained this morning.
"She was ambushed by this person or by these persons. It was just a straight ambush," said Stewart, who added he could not recall the last time an Oklahoma City officer was shot in an apparent ambush.
Hector Mercado was originally arrested on suspicion of DUI, but officers did not give him a breathalyzer test within the required two-hour period because of the shooting and resulting investigation, Stewart said. The complaint was changed to public intoxication.
Hector Mercado pleaded guilty to DUI and other driving-related offenses in Cleveland County in 1999 and in Oklahoma County in 2001, 2002 and 2003. An Oklahoma County charge of refusing and neglecting to cause a child under 18 to attend school was dismissed at the state's request in 2006. He served about six months in prison on one of the DUI convictions.
CONTRIBUTING: STAFF WRITER MATT DINGER