Mall shooting suspect called police, threatened to shoot officers
A day after a police officer-involved shooting frightened holiday shoppers and forced evacuation of The Parks at Arlington mall on Sunday afternoon, police said the suspect, William Paul Dodd, 21, had dealings with them two days earlier in which he threatened to shoot officers.
Dodd had been identified by mall security staff as the person who took two pairs of sunglasses worth $300-$400 from Sunglass Hut at about 4:20 p.m. Two uniformed Arlington police officers initially responded.
During a news conference Monday afternoon at police headquarters, police spokesman Lt. Christopher Cook said police had also encountered Dodd at about 2 p.m. Friday.
"He committed a traffic violation and an officer in our south unit attempted to make a traffic stop for that traffic violation and he took off," said Cook.
He said that during the brief chase Dodd drove aggressively, constantly switching lanes during a peak traffic time, in the area of South Bowen and West Sublett roads. He said the responding officer was able to identify the registration on the vehicle and a higher-ranking officer decided to cancel the pursuit.
Cook said the vehicle was registered to a woman, whom police contacted. She told police that she lent the vehicle to Dodd on Friday.
Dodd called 911 Sunday around 3 p.m. while police were working to find him, Cook said.
"In the call Mr. Dodd claimed that he was a suspect in an evading-arrest call," said Cook. "At one point during the call he said, 'I know Arlington is looking for me but I got a gun so if y'all pull me over I'm gonna shoot, so just be ready.' " Cook said Dodd ended the call and the dispatcher called him back.
He answered, refused to turn himself in and said he was at Stovall Park in south Arlington.
"He reiterated that he had a gun and would shoot police," said Cook. "We had an officer and sergeant make contact with Mr. Dodd again and they said he sounded to be intoxicated or incoherent. So we sent officers to Stovall Park."
An hour and 20 minutes later, at the mall, Dodd tried to flee from security. He ran toward an escalator. Police released two images late Sunday showing the encounter. The suspect, on the escalator, appears to be pointing a firearm at the police officer on the lower deck.
The officer fired at Dodd, striking him multiple times.
Investigators later recovered a replica firearm that discharges BBs, or pellets.
Dodd was taken to Medical City Arlington for treatment of gunshot wounds to his torso. He remained in critical condition, Cook said.
"He's heavily sedated and has not been able to be interviewed at this point," Cook said.
According to Tarrant County criminal records, Dodd has been arrested seven times since November 2014. Charges have included misdemeanor offenses like theft of property, DWI, criminal trespassing, burglary of a vehicle and possession of controlled substances. Dodd was also indicted on June 8, 2016, on charges of credit/debit card abuse and theft of a firearm.
He was sentenced to nine and eight months in a state jail to be served concurrently, respectively, but ended up receiving credit for time served in jail from prior drug offenses, according to Samantha Jordan a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office.
"It's took us awhile to figure out what happened in sentencing," said Jordan.
Jordan said when Dodd was sentenced for the credit/debit card abuse felony charge on Sept. 23, 2016, which carried a nine month Texas state jail sentence, he had been in custody long enough to cover the sentence and received credit.
The theft of a firearm felony charge carried an 8 month state jail sentence set to begin on Aug. 18, 2017, but Dodd had already been a part of the Texas Substance Abuse Treatment Program, more commonly known as SAFP, long enough to receive credit for time served.
"The SAFP program is not used often because many drug abuse offenders view the program as a really stringent drug rehab and would rather serve jail time instead," said Jordan. "It amazing that another misdemeanor offense (theft of sunglasses) caused this scene."
When Dodd is released from the hospital he will be transported to the Arlington Jail, but Cook said Monday it was unclear what charges he will face. Jordan echoed the same sentiment and said the district attorney's office will have to work on figuring out the correct charges to be filed.
"I don't know yet," said Jordan. "Since it's believed to be that the replica weapon was being used against the officer it could be an aggravated assault charge, but it's still unclear at this time."