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Off-duty cop wounded in shooting

Vianna Davila
Express-News Staff Writer

A 24-year-old man has been charged with attempted capital murder, accused of opening fire on an off-duty San Antonio Police Department officer working security at an East Side H-E-B late Thursday night, striking him once in the leg.

Rhiny Larne Phillips is being held at Bexar County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.

Officer Ed Vargas, a 10-year SAPD veteran, was taken to University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the calf, where he was treated and released. He was conscious at the scene and in stable condition, according to SAPD Sgt. Gabe Trevino.

Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting, Trevino said.

Vargas was walking an H-E-B employee to her car in the parking lot at the corner of Houston and New Braunfels streets around 11:30 p.m. He was on his way back to the store when he spotted a man standing on Houston Street, Trevino said.

The man then opened fire on the officer and advanced toward him, according to Trevino.

“It seemed apparent he was shooting toward the officer on purpose,” the sergeant said.

Vargas returned several rounds before the gunman fled down New Braunfels Street. A responding officer apprehended Phillips a few minutes later.

As he fled, the gunman dumped the weapon behind an auto parts store across from the H-E-B, on Houston Street, Trevino said.

Vargas was in uniform when he was shot, Trevino added. He works the daylight shift at the Prue Road Substation.

Thursday's incident was the second time Vargas was shot. In 2000, he took a bullet to the hip while serving an arrest warrant to a robbery suspect on the West Side, the sergeant said.

This is also the third shooting involving an SAPD officer in a little more than a week. On July 12, an officer fatally shot an armed man who attacked him in a Bill Miller's parking lot. On July 17, a North Side man was killed after he pulled a gun on an officer responding to a family disturbance at the man's house.
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