San Marcos officer killed in ambush attack was Justin Putnam, a ‘fine young man, a faithful officer and a friend’

San Marcos Police Officer Justin Putnam was killed in the line of duty April 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
San Marcos Police Officer Justin Putnam was killed in the line of duty April 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

San Marcos Police Officer Justin Putnam was killed in the line of duty April 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

San Marcos Interim Police Chief Bob Klett gave more details of the ambush attack that killed Officer Justin Putnam and seriously wounded two other officers on April 18.

Putnam, with fellow officers Justin Mueller and Franco Stewart, entered an apartment at Twin Lake Villas Apartments, 2917 Hunter Road, after a call of domestic violence at 6:05 p.m.

Klett said the suspect, a 34-year-old San Marcos resident, ambushed the officers with a rifle as they entered the apartment.

Klett told reporters at a Sunday morning press conference that the domestic call to 911 was for the suspect hitting his wife and that alcohol was involved. “He was prepared for them to come in and he started firing immediately.”

Klett said the officers were wearing body armor. The SWAT team was called while officers from San Marcos, Texas State University, Hays County Sheriff Department, Buda City Police, Kyle City Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, New Braunfels City Police and constables rushed to the scene.

The SWAT team entered the apartment and found the suspect dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

Klett credited EMS and firefighters for saving the lives of Mueller and Stewart.

Putnam was 31 years old and had 5 ½ years of experience on the San Marcos police force. He was a graduate of Texas State University. Klett said Putnam is survived by his fiancée and a family with a law enforcement background.

“We lost a fine young man, a faithful officer and a friend” Klett said. “We’ve had a lot of tragedy and we appreciate the prayers.”

Mueller has been a San Marcos police officer for 10 months and Stewart has been with the department for 5 months, serving the McAllen Police Department for two years prior to coming to San Marcos.

Mueller and Stewart were taken to Ascension Seton Hospital in Kyle, where they are now listed in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit, Klett said.

City spokesperson Kristy Stark said details will follow for a fund for the officers’ families. Stark said the community has already shown support in the latest tragedy to hit the department.

This story will be updated as new details are released.
By Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.


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