A 34-year-old man was named as the suspect in a shooting spree that happened over several hours in two major cities in central Texas. The spree killed his parents and four other people, hurt three others, including two police officers, and left three people dead.
Austin police say they “strongly believe” that the suspect, Shane James, is linked to the violent events that happened in Austin over eight hours on Tuesday. Authorities said that James was being held without bail on Wednesday on a charge of capital murder and that more charges were still being worked out.
Robin Henderson, the interim police chief, said the events happened in four places in the state capital on Tuesday and one near San Antonio. She said that the killing spree started in Austin on Tuesday morning when an Austin Independent School District police officer was shot near Northeast Early College High School. This caused the school to be locked down.
“We strongly believe that one suspect is responsible for all of these incidents based on the information we have gathered during these investigations,” Henderson said at a news conference Tuesday night.
Police are trying to figure out if James knew any of the people who were shot in Austin and what caused the violence. Shane James Sr., 56, and Phyliss James, 55, were found dead in a home near San Antonio on Tuesday night. They were James’ parents, the Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators didn’t make the connection between the episodes until the last one, which happened around 7 p.m. Tuesday and involved an Austin police officer getting hurt in a gunfight with the suspect in the garden of a house where two people were later found dead.
Henderson said that the hurt officer, who had been with the Austin Police Department for 12 years, went to the southwest Austin home after someone called 911 to report that a break-in was happening there.
Henderson said that when the officer went to the backyard of the house, he met the suspect there, and the suspect quickly opened fire, hitting the officer several times. She said the officer fired back but missed the attacker, who ran to a car and left the scene. The officer’s injuries were not life-threatening.
The suspect was being chased by other police officers when he crashed at a crossroads and was arrested, Henderson said. After arresting James, Austin police told the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office that the suspect had ties to a home near San Antonio, which is about 80 miles southwest of Austin, according to Sheriff Salazar. Authorities were sent to the house to check on the people living there and found a “grisly” scene. They also found the bodies of the suspect’s parents, who had been shot multiple times with a large-calibre gun and were “wedged inside a very small room.”
Police say the parents were killed between 10 p.m. on Monday and 9 a.m. on Tuesday before the suspect went to Austin to continue what they say was a killing spree. He last heard from James’ parents at around 10 p.m. on Monday.
According to Salazar, James had also been involved in other situations where officers were called to the family’s home to help. He said James, who he said had been in the service, had been having mental health problems for a long time.
He said James was arrested on January 6, 2022, for three misdemeanour counts related to an alleged attack on his parents and a brother. “The family stated that James does not belong in jail, that he has mental health issues,” said Salazar. He said that James got out of jail on March 7, 2022, after a judge lowered his bond from $500 to $100 and changed the rules so that he could have threatening or harmful contact with his parents or brothers instead of not being able to talk to them at all.
Salazar said James had to wear a gadget that would keep an eye on his ankles after he got out of jail. He said James turned off his ankle tracking device the day after he got out of jail, which led to misdemeanour arrest warrants being issued for him.
The last time Salazar’s deputies talked to James was in August when they were called back to the family’s house. According to him, James’ father called the police and said, “My son was naked, acting out, having a mental health episode, and was upstairs in his bedroom.”
He said the cops tried to get James to come out of his room, but they couldn’t because James was only wanted for misdemeanours at the time. “They were doing everything they could to avoid a violent confrontation,” Salazar said of his officers. He also said that James was insulting the deputies while he was unarmed.
According to Salazar, James’ father partially forced open his son’s bedroom door while deputies were on the lookout. James was lying naked on a bed, as deputies watched.
The cops left the house and told James’s father to call them if he came out of the room because they couldn’t get him to come out. He stated that the dad never called back. “I wish we could have been able to get him into custody,” Salazar stated.
Salazar said that James will likely be charged with murder or capital murder in Bexar County. According to Austin Independent School District Police Chief Wayne Sneed, the first shooting in the city happened at 10:43 a.m. on Tuesday, when a school security officer was shot in the leg.
About two hours later, Sgt. Destiny Silva of the Austin Police Department said that a man and a woman were found shot inside a home near Shadywood Drive on the south side of the city. She said police were called to the house because several people called 911 to say they heard gunshots coming from there.
Silva said that one of the people who died was confirmed dead at the scene of the crime and the other died on the way to the hospital. Police say that around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a biker called 911 to say that he had been shot and hurt near the 5700 block of West Slaughter Lane in Austin.
After about two hours, the experienced police officer and the suspect got into a gunfight on Austral Loop, which ended with the suspect being arrested. Henderson said that the suspect and the experienced police officer’s gunfight were caught on the officer’s body camera. According to Austin Police Department policy, the video will be made public within 10 business days.