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Mesquite police identify officer who was fatally shot outside grocery store

Officer Richard Houston was shot Friday afternoon while responding to a disturbance near an Albertson's grocer store in the 1500 block of South Beltline Road.

DALLAS — The officer who was fatally shot in the line of duty on Friday was a 21-year police veteran and a married father of three children, officials announced on Saturday.

Officer Richard Houston was shot Friday afternoon while responding to a disturbance near an Albertson's grocer store in the 1500 block of South Beltline Road in Mesquite.

Houston was shot multiple times and was taken to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, where he died.

Police on Saturday were still investigating the shooting. A suspect was also shot during the incident, but their name has not been released.

Houston joined the Mesquite Police Department in January 2001. He had worked in patrol, on SWAT for more than 10 years and as an investigator, working burglaries and thefts, homeland security and juvenile gang cases, police said in a news release.

“This was a senseless act of violence," Mesquite police Chief David Gill said. "Richard was a great officer, friend, father, and husband. Please keep his family and our family in your prayers."

On Saturday, there was an endless show of support as the community paid their respects through a memorial outside the Mesquite Police Department headquarters.

"It's like family in this community, so I just wanted to show my respects to the family and to the officer," resident Meka Brown said at the memorial site.

A candlelight vigil was held outside Houston's home in Forney Saturday evening as neighbors and church members gathered to remember the fallen officer.

"It was heartbreaking, surreal. Couldn't believe it. We heard about the incident and you just never imagine it's somebody down the street," neighbor Janet Allen said.

Another vigil is planned for Sunday evening outside the Mesquite Police Department headquarters.

Funeral arrangements were made Sunday, and Mesquite police said the public is welcome to attend. The service is set for Thursday, Dec. 9 at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall. Visitation is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the service is scheduled for 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Houston had received 48 letters of commendation in his career as an officer, according to police, including two life-saving awards.

In April, he was honored with a Certificate of Merit when he helped prevent a suicide attempt by a suspect accused of stealing a car.

When Houston saw the suspect holding a gun to his head, Houston calmed the man down and assured him that no one wanted to harm him, police said. The suspect surrendered and was taken into custody without incident.

Mesquite officials posted a video to YouTube of Houston's award ceremony:

Nick Edwards, a pastor at the Community Life church in Forney, posted on Facebook about Houston's death, saying Houston and his family attended the church. 

"At this time, we ask you to pray for them," Edwards said in the post. "We are working with the police department to coordinate assistance to the family. As we learn more, we will communicate how you can further support the Houston family."

Police organizations from around the North Texas area expressed their condolences for Houston's death, including Fort Worth and Dallas police.

"Praying and mourning alongside our brothers and sisters from @MesquitePD_TX, their fallen hero and his family. The @DallasPD also wears your patch today, and for as long as you need our assistance," Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia tweeted.

The Mesquite Police Department said a donation page was set up to help the Houston family.

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