Texas police officer Ann Carrizales took two bullets at point-blank range — including one to the face — during an early morning traffic stop last Saturday. Yet she still went after the bad guys.
“It wasn’t an option for me to give up,” the 40-year-old former Marine and mother of two told NBC’s Janet Shamlian. “I had to stay in that fight because I am a mom and they shot me and they were absolutely not going to get away with that, because I will do everything I can to come home to my children every day.”
Carrizales pulled over a car in Stafford, Texas, just outside Houston, around 3 a.m. She said her instincts told her something was amiss as she walked up to the car with three men inside.
Within seconds, the front-seat passenger leaned over and started firing.
Carrizales was hit twice: once in the cheek and once in the bulletproof vest that most likely saved her life. She fired back at the car as it sped off, shattering its rear window.
Then, bleeding and in pain, she got into her squad car and gave chase. The pursuit lasted more than 20 miles.
“I knew that it was what I needed to do, to catch these guys,” she said. “You can’t shoot me and drive away: It’s not allowed.”
Officers from a neighboring police department helped apprehend the alleged gunman. Authorities continue to search for the two other suspects and are offering a $10,000 reward for their capture.
On Thursday afternoon, local and federal law enforcement executives and Crime Stoppers of Houston released video footage of the incident that was taken with a dashboard camera just after the shooting. At the start of the 9-minute video, Carrizales shouts over her radio, "shots fired, shots fired. I'm hit," before taking off in pursuit of the suspects. The chase continues for several minutes before coming to a rest in a residential area, where Carrizales' injuries were inspected by fellow police officers.
Carrizales, a former boxer who was named top cop by her colleagues last year, now wears a bandage on her cheek and neck. She is off the streets until she recovers, but she is adamant about returning.
“You need people like me out here to do this, and I’m so proud to do it and honored to do it,” she said.