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Sheriff: Gunman's parents among 6 dead in Texas attacks; he was earlier arrested for family assault

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas man suspected of killing his parents in San Antonio and four others in Austin in a violent trail of separate attacks had cut off his ankle monitor from a previous misdemeanor domestic violence arrest, authorities said Wed
Austin Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson speaks at a media briefing in Austin, Texas early Wednesday Dec. 6, 2023. Texas authorities say a daylong series of attacks in Austin has left four people dead and at least three injured, and a man believed to be connected to them and the deaths of two people near San Antonio was taken into custody. (Sara Diggins /Austin American-Statesman via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas man suspected of killing his parents in San Antonio and four others in Austin in a violent trail of separate attacks had cut off his ankle monitor from a previous misdemeanor domestic violence arrest, authorities said Wednesday.

The suspect, Shane James, 34, also had been confronted by deputies for a mental health call when he was naked at his parents’ home, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said at a news conference in the San Antonio area. But deputies did not arrest him at that time, despite a misdemeanor warrant for cutting off the ankle monitor. James will be charged with murder or capital murder in his county in the coming days, the sheriff added.

James has already been charged with two counts of capital murder related to the killings in Austin in separate attacks authorities said began Tuesday morning and ended with the suspect crashing his car that evening during a police pursuit. Four people were found dead in two homes in Austin, more than 80 miles (130 kilometers) away from the San Antonio area, officials said.

A cyclist in Austin also was shot and wounded and two police officers were recovering from gunshots, including one who was shot in the leg outside of a high school, Austin interim Police Chief Robin Henderson said.

Henderson said it was unclear what, if any, relationship the man had to the victims in the Austin area.

Online jail records in Travis County show James was being held on two charges of capital murder in Travis County and misdemeanors from other counties. The records do not indicate whether James has an attorney and several people listed as relatives of James in public records did not immediately respond to phone messages Wednesday.

“We strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents,” Henderson said during a news conference early Wednesday.

James is a former U.S. Army infantry officer who served from February 2013 to August 2015, according to Lt. Col. Ruth Castro, Army spokesperson. He had no deployments and his last rank was first lieutenant.

Court records show James was previously charged in San Antonio with three misdemeanor counts of allegedly assaulting a member of his family or household. Those charges are awaiting a hearing.

Henderson said authorities did not determine the Austin attacks were connected until the final one at a home, which happened more than eight hours after a school police officer was shot and wounded in a high school parking lot on the other side of the city.

In the San Antonio area, the Bexar County sheriff said the bodies of two people were found inside a residence after deputies saw water coming out of the home, as though something was leaking inside. He said the deaths appeared to have occurred before the shootings in Austin.

“This occurred, and then the suspect drove to Austin and did what he did there,” Salazar told reporters.

In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would “impose the full weight of law on this criminal for his despicable crimes.”

“Texans grieve for the loved ones of the six Texans who were murdered by a hardened criminal who must never see the light of day again,” Abbott said in the statement.

The attacks were the country’s 42nd mass killings this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. At least 217 people have died this year in those killings, which are defined as incidents in which four or more people have died within a 24-hour period, not including the killer — the same definition used by the FBI.

A timeline provided by Texas authorities revealed the wide ground the suspect allegedly covered between the attacks.

Henderson said it began with the Austin school district police officer being shot in the leg about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday outside Northeast Early College High School. Then, around noon, police who responded to a home after getting calls about gunshots found two people with signs of trauma. Police say one was dead and the other died at a hospital.

Daniel Moyer, who lives in the neighborhood, said the area is typically peaceful and felt shaken Wednesday. The neighborhood in south Austin is more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) miles from the high school where the officer was shot.

“It could have been me and my wife,” Moyer said.

Another shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m., when a male cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries. About two hours later, police responded to a call of a burglary in progress at another home and found two people dead there. Henderson did not say how the four people in Austin died.

Henderson said that during the call at the last residence, an Austin police officer saw a man in the backyard. The man shot and wounded the officer who returned fire and was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Police said the man, who was not hit, drove away and police chased him. The suspect crashed at about 7:15 p.m. at a highway intersection and was taken into custody. The man had a gun, Henderson said.

She said the officer who was shot and the other officers were wearing body cameras and the video would be released within 10 business days.

___ Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Lolita Baldor in Washington; Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; and AP photographer Eric Gay in San Antonio contributed to this report.

Jim Vertuno And Acacia Coronado, The Associated Press