Around 1 a.m. Monday a post on SAPD’s Facebook stated, “No arrest has been made in the shooting death of Detective Marconi.”
SAPD had published a photo of a man on its social media accounts and asked the public for assistance in finding him Sunday afternoon, saying the man might have information on the death of Marconi, who was shot to death Sunday during a routine traffic stop outside SAPD headquarters.
Police are searching for the suspect, described by Chief William McManus as a slim, black man in his 20s or 30s in a gray shirt and pants, who fled the scene after shooting Detective Benjamin Marconi twice in the head in his patrol vehicle.
“Our hearts go out to Detective Marconi’s family, to all our SAPD brothers and sisters, for whom this has hit home hard,” McManus said at a press conference. “Most families will be celebrating the holidays. SAPD will be burying one of its own because of an ultimate act of cowardice by a suspect who will be caught and brought to justice.”
At approximately 11:45 a.m. Sunday, Marconi was sitting in his patrol car writing a ticket after a traffic stop. The suspect, who was not the person Marconi had stopped, pulled up behind the police vehicle, approached the driver’s side, and fired a shot through the open window. He then reached in the window, fired a second shot, and fled the scene through the south parking lot, ultimately exiting on the west side of the building. Surveillance footage shows his vehicle as a black sedan – a 2009-2015 Mitsubishi Galant, according to SAPD’s Facebook – with tinted windows and custom rims.
Detective Marconi was “transported by the SFD EMS to SAMMC, where he was pronounced dead,” McManus said during the press conference.
McManus said the motive of the murder is unclear, but he described the suspect as “extremely dangerous and a clear threat to law enforcement officers and the public,” calling on the community to come forward with any information that may help officers quickly apprehend him.
“As we have always said, the community is our partner,” McManus stated. “We need our partners now to assist us with any information you may have, no matter how insignificant you think it may be.”
Officers will be taking special precautions, such as performing traffic stops in pairs, until the situation is resolved.
Described by fellow officers as quiet, committed, and widely loved, 50-year-old Marconi has served the SAPD for 20 years. A memorial fund honoring Marconi’s life and legacy has already been set up. To donate, click here.
“As shocking and sobering as these tragic events are, I will say I am thankful for the life and 20 years of service of Detective Marconi and for the thousands of SAPD officers who work each and every day to keep us safe,” Mayor Ivy Taylor said.
The news has sent a ripple of shock through the police force, where such incidents are uncommon.
“Everybody was just stunned and shocked,” said Michael Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association. “Even for myself, I’m still trying to come to the realization that this actually did happen to somebody that we knew in our family. I know there’s a lot of officers out there that are still dealing with it themselves.”
The tragedy marks the 58th fire-arms-related police fatality in the U.S. this year, a 61% increase from 2015 that some analysts have attributed to deteriorating police-community relations across the nation. It follows a series of high-profile, targeted murders, from the shooting of five officers in Dallas last July to the ambush of two officers in Des Moines, Iowa in early November. In total, 17 officers in Texas have been killed this year in the line of duty, far higher than any other state in the country.
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) said she hopes the incident will lead to continued work on police-community relations.
“We have to continue to work toward communication with our citizens,” she explained, adding that she hoped future police-community discussions would be made more transparent to City officials and the public.
“(The tragedy), of course, rocks everybody’s world because we depend so much on the police and the officers to respond and take care of us,” she added.
Though he said it’s too early to speculate on the motive of the act, Helle emphasized the importance of not overreacting by describing the event as “a test for our community.”
“It doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, Hispanic,” he said. “I think we all need to maintain control of ourselves as individuals.”
“Ben was a great guy and people loved him,” Helle said. “Certainly he had an aura about him … You had to go out of your way not to like him, he was that good of a guy.”
The shooting of Marconi was one of three within a 10-hour span, according to the San Antonio Express-News: around 2:20 a.m. a fight at Hott Dawgz Lounge, located at 826 San Pedro Ave., spilled into the parking lot where multiple shooters claimed three victims: one died in the hospital, while two remain in critical condition.
At 5:30 a.m. a seven-hour standoff on the Northwest side claimed the life of a man who had broken into and barricaded himself inside his ex-girlfriend’s residence before firing rounds around her head. The woman escaped uninjured, and SWAT officers shot the man after he fired several round from the building.
The three officers involved in the two early morning shootings have been placed on administrative duty until the incidents are further investigated.
A dark and violent day in San Antonio’s recent history, President-elect Donald Trump decried Marconi’s death as “terrible.”
Production Editor Hanna Oberhofer contributed to this report.