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54-year-old Houston officer critically injured in firefight has been shot on job twice before

“I had to go in, I knew my guys were down," the officer, who was shot in the neck, wrote in a note from his hospital bed to his police chief.

One of the five Houston police officers injured in a gunfight Monday night is a veteran officer who had been shot on the job twice before.

The 54-year-old officer who was leading a team executing a warrant in a suspected narcotics case, passed a note to the Houston police chief Tuesday morning from his hospital bed that said: “I had to go in, I knew my guys were down."

The officer, a 32-year veteran of the force, had been shot in the line of duty twice before, in 1992 and in 1997, Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

"He’s done something really good in life that God looks over him," Acevedo said. "The only thing bigger than his stature is his strength and courage."

The veteran officer was among five injured in the shootout. Four were hit with gunfire, and another officer suffered a knee injury.

One officer, who was shot in the shoulder, was released from the hospital Monday night, Acevedo said.

Two, including the 54-year-old veteran officer, were shot in the neck and critically wounded. They both underwent surgery Monday and are now in critical but stable condition, authorities said.

Two suspects, who were identified as Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and Dennis Tuttle, 59, engaged in gunfire almost immediately upon the officers' accessing the home, Acevedo said at a news conference Tuesday.

Nicholas and Tuttle were killed after they attacked police trying to serve the warrant, Acevedo said. Tuttle is believed to have engaged in a firefight with the officers and Nicholas was shot trying to take a weapon away from a wounded officer who had fallen on the couch in the living room of the home, the chief said. The residence was under video surveillance.

Acevedo said that about a dozen narcotics officers who were following a tip from a neighbor about possible drug sales, including of black tar heroin, were serving the warrant. They were assisted by a half-dozen patrol officers. A pit bull was the first to attack as officers breached the door, Acevedo said. The officers then came under fire by Tuttle, according to the police chief. The pit bull was killed when police returned fire.

The names of the injured officers were not released and the condition of one of the officers will not be made public at the request of his family.

"We need the community's prayers for him and his family," Acevedo said. "All these officers need prayers."