A police officer in Midland, Texas, was fatally shot while responding to a burglary alarm call by a homeowner who thought his house was being broken into and mistook the officer for an intruder, authorities say. Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg was rushed to a local hospital after being shot, but did not survive. The shooting happened early Tuesday morning at a home in West Texas.
Heidelberg, a 28-year-old officer who had worked with the Midland Police Department for five years and went by the name Hayden Heidelberg, responded to the burglary alarm call with other officers about 2:30 a.m. The homeowner who shot him has been identified as 37-year-old David Charles Wilson. He was arrested and charged with manslaughter, Midland County Sheriff’s Office records show. The shooting is being investigated by the Texas Rangers.
“It is with the utmost sorrow that we acknowledge the passing of our family member. Officer Nathan Heidelberg, a five-year veteran of the Midland Police Department, represented the best in all of us. He was courageous, selfless, ethical and professional,” Midland Police Chief Seth Herman said in a statement. “Nathan treated others with respect, regardless of their demeanor or actions. He was a tireless public servant who devoted every ounce of energy to this profession, the citizens and his fellow officers. We have lost not only a great officer, but a loving brother and the most positive example of what we should all aspire to be. I wish I was more like Nathan.”
David Wilson‘s attorney, Brian Carney, told KOSA-TV in a statement, “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Officer Heidelberg’s family and the Midland Police Department for the events that lead to his death. We are cooperating with investigators to attempt to learn all the material facts as soon as possible. David Wilson believed that his family was experiencing a home invasion and only fired his weapon to protect his family.”
Here’s what you need to know about the shooting and Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg:
The Homeowner Fired Toward Heidelberg’s Flashlight, Hitting Him Above His Vest, Despite Officers Making a ‘Loud Announcement of Their Presence,’ Police Say
The Midland Police Department responded to a call for an activated burglar alarm at 3306 Eagle Cove about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a press release. Officer Hayden Heidelberg arrived at the scene along with the probationary officer he was training and two other officers, police said. The four offices made a “loud announcement of their presence,” according to the police press release.
The homeowner, identified as David Wilson, then came upon the officers and opened fire. It is not clear how many shots he fired or what kind of gun he was using. Police said Wilson fired multiple shots toward the flashlight that Heidelberg was holding. A bullet hit Heidelberg in the area above his protective bullet-proof vest. He was taken to the hospital and died about 8:30 a.m., according to police.
Wilson was taken into custody and booked into the Midland County jail on manslaughter charges, according to police. The Midland Police said in a press release that Wilson believed his home had been broken into and was being burglarized when he opened fire on the officers. The homeowner mistook the officer for a burglar, according to police.
It is not known if the officers were wearing body cameras or if other footage of the shooting exists. The shooting remains under investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Heidelberg Joined the Midland Police Department in December 2014
Officer Nathan Hayden Heidelberg joined the Midland Police Department in December 2014, according to a Facebook post from his swearing-in ceremony. He was sworn in along with seven other new Midland officers.
“I’m asking our community to come together today and this week to lift our fallen police officer, Officer Heidelberg, his family and the Midland Police Department family in prayer. This is a tragic loss for our community. I want to say thank you for all of the surrounding communities for their show of support,” Midland Mayor Jerry Morales said in a statement. “Our Midland families need to stand strong and lift each other up during this time of mourning. Please give your support and thanks to all of our public servants for all they do to protect our great city. As Mayor, I ask that all flags be flown at half-staff this week in remembrance of Officer Heidelberg and all those fallen in the line of duty.”
Heidelberg was a musician and played the guitar, according to Facebook posts. His friend, Stewart Aaron, wrote a tribute to Heidelberg on the police department’s Facebook page, “He was the true definition of a friend. Can’t believe he’s gone. Gonna miss those game nights, those long talks, busting out the acoustics.. so many memories… he was an old soul and would do anything for anyone.”
The Midland County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook, “Our thoughts, love, support, condolences and prayers to our brothers and sisters with Midland Police Department. Please keep them in your prayers. Our heartfelt condolences to Officer Heidelberg’s family.”
First responders and members of the public lined the streets to salute the fallen officer as Heidelberg’s body was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Tarrant County.
Tributes and condolences to Heidelberg’s family and fellow officers poured in from police departments around Texas and the country. Heidelberg is the first Midland Police officer to die in the line of duty since 1966.
He Grew Up in Midland & Graduated From Midland City College in 2011
Hayden Heidelberg grew up in Midland, Texas, according to his social media profiles. Heidelberg was an uncle and several photos showed him playing with his niece and nephews. Friends and family members remembered him on Facebook as a great man who became a great police officer.
Prior to becoming a police officer, Heidelberg graduated from Midland College in 2011.
The Homeowner, an Oil & Gas Investment Company CEO, Was Released on $75,000 Bail on the Manslaughter Charge, Authorities Say
The homeowner was arrested after the shooting and charged with manslaughter. David Charles Wilson was released from the Midland County jail after posting $75,000 bail, court records show. Manslaughter requires prosecutors to prove that a person recklessly caused the death of another person. It is a second-degree felony in Texas and carries a potential prison sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison, along with fines up to $10,000.
It is not clear if Wilson has hired an attorney and when he is scheduled to appear in court.
Wilson, 37, is the president and CEO of Unitex Oil & Gas LLC, an energy investment company that is based in Midland, according to his Linkedin profile. He started the company in 2003 when he was 20, according to its website. He has also been involved in local charities and other companies, including time as the chairman of High Sky Children’s Ranch.
Wilson is married and has three young daughters, according to his wife’s now-deleted Facebook page. He and his wife purchased the home on Eagle Cove in Midland in 2017 for $1.125 million. The 6,985-square-foot home was built in 1997 and sits on 2.5 acres of land.
According to the Unitex Oil & Gas website, it “is an upstream exploration and production company located in Midland, Texas, led by David Wilson. Since 2003, the company has been investing in and improving the production of conventional oil assets in the Permian Basin. In 2012, Ridgemont Equity Partners, a middle market buyout and growth equity firm, announced the formation of a new partnership with Unitex Oil and Gas’ management team and the closing of the partnership’s first acquisition of conventional oil assets in Scurry County, Texas.”
The website says, “David Wilson founded Unitex Oil & Gas to pursue an acquisition strategy of mature conventional oil assets in the Permian Basin.” Wilson is a Texas native, growing up in Wichita Falls and Snyder. In 2014, Wilson was named one of the top 10 young entrepreuners in oil and gas by Castagra. The website said, “Wilson bought his first west Texas oil wells at the ripe age of 20. Now in his early 30s he has over 250 wells producing about 450 bbl per day. The mission of his company is to ‘create significant value through the development and acquisition of conventional oil assets in the Permian Basin.’ And it seems like he is doing a fine job at conquering his goal.”