A 30-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the ambush of a sheriff’s deputy while he was filling his patrol car with gas at a station in suburban Houston.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman identified the man as Shannon J. Miles, who is in police custody.
Hickman says Miles had a previous record including charges of resisting arrest and trespassing.
Authorities said they are not sure of the motive in what Hickman has described as a “cold-blooded assassination” of Deputy Darren Goforth.
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Goforth, 47, was pumping gas about 8:30 p.m. Friday when a man approached him from behind and fired multiple shots, continuing to fire after the deputy had fallen to the ground. Hickman said surveillance video shows there were people at the gas station and asked that they reach out with any information.
Goforth’s death prompted pleas for the public’s help in finding the shooter and also strong statements from about the recent climate of tension between civilians, law enforcement and the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“Our system of justice absolutely requires a law enforcement presence to protect our community,” Hickman said at a news conference. “So at any point when the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated cold-blooded assassination of police officers happens, this rhetoric has gotten out of control.
“We’ve heard Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too. So why don’t we drop the qualifier and say lives matter?”
Police have described the suspect as a male with a dark complexion, about 5-foot-10 to 6 feet tall, wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts. Authorities did not say what race they believe him to be.
Earlier Saturday, Gilliland said officials were questioning a person of interest and had a search warrant for a two-story brick home, where they were looking at a red pickup truck. The house is about a quarter-mile from the gas station.
Goforth was a 10-year veteran of the force, had a wife and two children, Hickman said. As for a motive, Hickman said that until anything is known with “certainty … it’s all speculation” but later suggested that Goforth was targeted because he was in law enforcement.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson called on what she described as “the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement.”
“There are a few bad apples in every profession. That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement,” she said.
In a statement Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott said “heinous and deliberate crimes against law enforcement will not be tolerated” and that the state “reveres the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve their communities.”
The deputy had gone to the Chevron gas station in Cypress, a middle-class to upper middle-class suburban area of Harris County that is unincorporated and located northwest of Houston, after responding to a routine car accident earlier Friday.
An impromptu memorial sprouted at the pump he had used Friday night, with a pile of balloons, flowers, candles and notes, including one that said, “Gone but never forgotten R.I.P. Deputy Goforth.” The gas station was open Saturday, but that pump was closed.
Brian McCullar knew Goforth because the deputy had patrolled his neighborhood, which is about two miles from the gas station, and the two spoke often.
“He was passionate about what he did,” the 49-year-old said, adding, “We’re still in shock. … It’s a huge loss for his family. It’s a huge loss for this area.
“You’re talking about a guy that made a difference,” McCullar said.