A suspect has been named in a series of apparent murders and shootings that left six people dead and three others injured across two major Texas cities.
Shane James, 34, is facing capital murder charges, police said.
He was linked to the deaths of four people on Tuesday in Austin, where two police officers and a cyclist were shot and injured. Authorities said during a press conference before Mr James was identified that the suspect had an outstanding assault and family violence warrant.
Following the Austin attacks, police linked the suspect to the deaths of his parents in San Antonio. Authorities also said that James had been confronted by law enforcement during a mental health check at his parents’ home in August, more than a year after he had cut off his ankle monitor from a previous misdemeanour domestic violence arrest.
“We strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents,” Interim Austin Police Chief Robin Henderson said. She added that authorities “did not determine that these incidents were connected until the last incident occurred” on Tuesday night.
According to KXAN, the first incident was reported at 10.40am on Tuesday near Northeast Early College High School, where an Austin Independent School District police sergeant was shot. Then, police received reports of a double homicide in the area “involving a male and female victim.”
The reports came around noon, when the suspect reportedly saw a handyman sitting in his car, which was parked in front of a home in the 7300 block of Shadywood Drive. A source told FOX 7 Austin that Mr James allegedly shot through the man’s passenger window, fatally striking him.
A woman who was inside the home then came outside when she heard the disturbance. The suspect allegedly chased her and fatally shot her.
The source also told the outlet that Mr James allegedly stole the handyman’s vehicle and drove it to the crime scene.
Just before 5pm, a cyclist was reportedly shot and is suffering from non-life-threatening injuries. Two hours later, an officer found a suspected burglar the backyard of an Austral Loop home, a “male suspect” who “immediately opened fire.” That officer is reportedly suffering non-life-threatening injuries while the suspect escaped.
“Later, officers went inside the residence” in Austral Loop to conduct a welfare check, the police chief said. “Two apparent victims of the suspect were located inside with fatal injuries and pronounced deceased on scene.”
The suspect drove away but crashed at the intersection of State Highway 45 and FM 1826, leading to his arrest.
Investigators also said they had linked the suspect with a home near San Antonio.
James’ parents Phyllis James, 55, and Shane Matthew James Sr, 56, were found dead in the house.
Salazar said that the San Antonio crime scene was “grisly” but did not elaborate on how the victims were killed.
“Nobody deserves to die the way we believe that they died,” the sheriff said. “This is a very quiet family. The gentleman that lives in the home, he’s very involved in the community, in the neighbourhood watch.”
Sheriff Salazar said it’s believed the deaths in the home happened sometime between 10pm on Monday, when a sibling of James last spoke with their parents, and 9am on Tuesday, when a neighbour noticed James Sr’ vehicle was not in the driveway.
Sheriff Salazar has asked neighbours to check their doorbell cameras to help authorities establish a more clear timeline. The sheriff said he expects James to be charged with murder or capital murder in the following days.
The identity of the suspect was released on Wednesday evening. James is currently being jailed at the Travis County Jail.
APD Chief Henderson had previously revealed that the suspect had an outstanding assault and family violence warrant.
On Wednesday, Sheriff Salazar said that James was arrested in January 2022 and charged with three misdemeanours for family assault after allegedly attacking a sibling and both his parents. The family reportedly told authorities that James did not belong in jail because he suffered from severe mental health issues.
“I believe that the request was made by the family members that he had nowhere to go but home,” Sheriff Salazar said. “March 7, he was released from jail. On March 8, we know that he cut his ankle monitor.”