Thursday, July 10, 2014
SPRING, Texas (AP) — A father opened fire at a suburban Houston home Wednesday, killing four of his children as well as two adults who were with them, and critically wounding his 15-year-old daughter, authorities said.
The teenager was able to call 911 and later warned deputies that her father planned to go to her grandparents' home to kill them, said Deputy Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff's Office. The suspected gunman eventually surrendered after a three-hour standoff with deputies who had cornered him in a nearby cul-de-sac.
The sheriff's department said precinct deputy constables were called to the house in the northern Houston suburb of Spring about 6 p.m. Wednesday and found two adults and three children dead. Another child later died at a hospital.
Killed were two boys, ages 4 and 14; two girls, ages 7 and 9; a 39-year-old man; and a 33-year-old woman, said Gilliland. The gunman and his wife are estranged, and she was out of state, Gilliland said. Two of the dead children were adopted, he said.
"These children were all their children," he said of the suspect and his wife.
"It appears this stems from a domestic issue with a breakup in the family, from what our witness has told us," Assistant Chief Deputy Constable Mark Herman of the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office told reporters. He did not explain further.
Authorities also did not release the identities of the victims or the suspect, nor did they say whether the adults who were killed were related to the children or their father.
Gilliland said the teenager was in "very critical condition" at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston late Wednesday night.
After the 15-year-old survivor told deputies that her father was headed to her grandparents' home, they were able to pass along the warning, he said.
Authorities said the teen's information also helped them intercept the suspect. The suspected gunman then led authorities on a chase, with nearly two dozen deputy constables' patrol cars following him into a cul-de-sac shortly before 7 p.m. There, the suspect's boxed-in vehicle remained for hours. Finally, about 10 p.m., after hours of waiting and negotiations, the man emerged from his car, raised his hands and sank to his knees as deputies placed him under arrest.
During that time, Gilliand said, there were "two hours of constant talking with a man armed with a pistol to his head and who had just killed six people."
Gilliland described the man as in his 30s with a beard "and cool as a cucumber." He said that when he and other officers first approached, the man was "just sitting in his car looking out at us."
"This concluded the way we wanted it to," Gilliland said after the surrender.
Said Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman, "He was in the car for 3 ½ hours. He was worn down like the rest of us. He came out of the car without resistance."
Danna Stevens, 75, and her husband, Texas Stevens, live four doors down from the home where the shooting happened but weren't home at the time. She said she didn't know her neighbors well and that they had moved into the subdivision about a year ago.
Associated Press writers Emily Schmall in Fort Worth and Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston contributed to this report.