Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson issued a long, emotional public statement Sunday to his employees — a message he described as “not like anything I have ever written to them before” — in response to the fatal shooting of a Houston sheriff’s deputy on Friday.
“… I have wanted to reach out to all TCSO employees with some words of comfort or strength, but for one of the few times in my life, I sit at a keyboard struggling to even put a sentence together,” Anderson wrote on the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Shannon J. Miles, 30, of Houston was arrested Saturday less than 24 hours after authorities said he ambushed Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, at a suburban Houston Chevron station. Miles, who is charged with capital murder, will be arraigned today, jail records show.
“This murder of a deputy sheriff is far too close to home for comfort,” Anderson wrote. “I, like I’m sure most of you, was stunned and almost rendered numb by the details of the killing. If I sound lost and unsure it’s because I am. I truly cannot make any sense of what is happening in this country and I am grasping for any answers for any way to end this nightmare, as we all are.”
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Court and jail records did not list an attorney for Miles and attempts to reach his family Sunday were unsuccessful. Miles has a criminal history that includes time in jail for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a firearm.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said that the attack was “clearly unprovoked” and that there is no evidence so far that Goforth knew Miles. “Our assumption is that he was a target because he wore a uniform,” Hickman said.
Law enforcement officials said Miles may have harbored a resentment against sheriff’s deputies because of the time he served at the county jail, and they were exploring what role, if any, that played in a motive, The New York Times reported.
Like many, I am weary of the arguments but I do know one thing – now has to be the time to say ‘enough.’
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson
Goforth, 47, was pumping gas at a Chevron station Friday night in Cypress, northwest of Houston, when the gunman approached him from behind and fired multiple shots, continuing to fire after the deputy fell to the ground.
“And now we have to worry that while filling the gas tank of our vehicle, someone may walk up from behind and shoot us down in cold blood,” Anderson wrote. “I am fully aware of all the arguments on both sides of how we arrived to where we are today. Like many, I am weary of the arguments but I do know one thing – now has to be the time to say ‘enough.’”
More than 1,000 people attended a vigil for the slain deputy at the gas station Sunday evening. A makeshift memorial there overflowed with American flag balloons and flowers.
Goforth’s wife, Kathleen Goforth, released a statement Saturday:
“My husband was an incredibly intricate blend of toughness and gentility. He was loyal … fiercely so. And he was ethical; the right thing to do is what guided his internal compass. I admired this quality, perhaps the most. For that was what made Darren good. And he was good.”
‘Cops’ lives matter, too’
The killing evoked strong emotions in the Houston law enforcement community, with Hickman linking it to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police. Goforth was white and Miles is black.
The nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement, which formed after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has sought sweeping reforms of policing. Related protests erupted in Texas recently after a Chicago-area black woman, Sandra Bland, 28, was found dead in a county jail about 50 miles northwest of Houston three days after her arrest on a traffic violation. Texas authorities said she committed suicide, but her family is skeptical of that.
In Houston, Hickman pushed back against the criticism of police on Saturday.
“We’ve heard Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too,” Hickman said.
Deray McKesson, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, told the Houston Chronicle, “It is unfortunate that Sheriff Hickman has chosen to politicize this tragedy and to attribute the officer’s death to a movement that seeks to end violence.”
Miles’ criminal record
The suspect’s criminal record begins in 2005, when he was convicted of criminal mischief, giving false information to police and resisting arrest, according to records. In 2006, he was convicted of disorderly conduct with a firearm and was sentenced to a maximum of 15 days in jail.
He was convicted of evading arrest in 2007, and his most recent conviction was in 2009, again for resisting arrest. Records show that he was sentenced to several short stints in jail, ranging from six to 10 days.