Crime

‘No evidence’ deceased Tarrant Co. sheriff’s deputy was shot; he died after head injuries

Statement on Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office sergeant’s death

Sgt. Chris Daniels with the Fort Worth Police Department gives a statement on the death of Tarrant County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Keith Shepherd on Friday, June 15, 2019.
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Sgt. Chris Daniels with the Fort Worth Police Department gives a statement on the death of Tarrant County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Keith Shepherd on Friday, June 15, 2019.

There is no evidence to suggest Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Keith Shepherd was shot when he died Friday night with significant injuries to his head, Fort Worth police said.

Fort Worth police are leading an investigation and were awaiting a cause of death determination from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner on Saturday, police said. Shepherd was found Friday night in his personal vehicle in the 100 block of Burnett Street across from the county jail, according to Sheriff Bill Waybourn.

Shepherd was a 19-year veteran of the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Detention Bureau.

Shepherd’s death is one of three local officer deaths within roughly one week. Officer A.J. Castaneda of the Grand Prairie Police Department was killed last week when he was struck while running radar, and on Saturday North Richland Hills police announced 25-year-old officer Caleb Rainey died. His cause of death was unknown, police said, but he had been ill.

Waybourn spoke on Saturday during a flag football tournament honoring Garrett Hull, an officer killed in September 2018 by a man suspected in a string of robberies.

“Each time these awful things happen,” Waybourn said, “it is our job to continue to press on and to celebrate the life of the great people we stand on the shoulders of.”

Sheriff’s deputy dies

Fort Worth Sgt. Chris Daniels, a police spokesman, said evidence and information gathered at the scene Friday night and the hospital didn’t suggest Shepherd had been shot.

Fort Worth officers were called at 9:27 p.m. and found Shepherd in his personal vehicle in a parking lot in the 100 block of Burnett Street across from the county jail, Waybourn said. He reportedly had significant head injuries.

No suspect has been identified, and the sheriff said he doesn’t think there’s a danger to the community.

“We’ve just got to follow the facts until we understand what happened,” Waybourn said.

Shepherd had gone on a meal break and did not return, Waybourn said. He said he didn’t want to speculate on whether Shepherd was armed.

There was blood inside and outside Shepherd’s vehicle, police said. The call was reported Friday night on the police scanner as a shooting.

Waybourn said what he knows “about Keith is that he had a great reputation at the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.”

“He was a strong leader,” he said. “He was loved. He was a great husband and a good father.”

Earlier in the evening, police said they were pulling all available surveillance video from a three-block radius. Dozens of officers were on the scene investigating and searching the area. The parking area was blocked off with crime scene tape.

3 local officers dead in 1 week

Hundreds of police officers from across the state traveled to Castaneda’s funeral in Dallas on Thursday, sitting in for the service and taking part in a police ceremony afterward.

Officers spoke of police agencies being like a family and supporting each other amid tragedies.

“All police departments, regardless of what they are, are a family,” Dallas Community College District Police Department Sgt. John Abbott said before the funeral Thursday. “And it’s our job to support every officer, no matter what department they’re from.”

Castaneda was remembered as a humble and kind officer who went above and beyond for his community, bringing pizzas to a local recreation center every Thursday and directing traffic at a local school.

Grand Prairie police tweeted on Friday night that it had the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office “in our thoughts and prayers” after Shepherd’s death. Other police departments, including agencies from Dallas, Keller and Colleyville, tweeted support for the sheriff’s office and family and friends of Shepherd.

Addtionally, Colleyville Chief of Police Michael C. Miller tweeted to keep North Richland Hills police and “Officer Rainey’s family in your thoughts and prayers” using the hashtag “BlueFamily.” North Richland Hills police described him on Saturday as a true public servant, serving others with compassion, dedication and a joy for life.

Reporters Luke Ranker and James Hartley contributed to this story.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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