Texas officer shot by suspects who beat up a priest

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HOUSTON (AP) A Houston police officer was hospitalized in stable condition Friday after authorities say he was shot in a struggle with a suspect who along with three others stole two vehicles and attempted to kill a priest in a crime spree that played out as Democratic presidential candidates debated just miles away.

Police in Houston say an officer was in surgery early Friday morning after being shot by one of four men who allegedly stole a car at gunpoint and later beat up a priest. (CNN VAN photo)

Police Chief Art Acevedo said during a news conference Friday that the 29-year-old officer was wearing a bulletproof vest but was shot just below the vest in the abdomen.

The four suspects carjacked an SUV at a gas station Thursday evening only to abandon it when it ran out of gas.

Acevedo says the group then encountered a priest in a church parking lot who they beat and robbed.

They then carjacked another vehicle but abandoned it as officers pursued them.

The suspect who shot the officer was shot and killed by another policeman.

Two others were taken into custody and police are searching for the fourth man.

Acevedo was attending the Democratic debate at Texas Southern University and rushed to the scene about three miles away.