Fort Worth firefighter faces murder charge in Arkansas stabbing death

A Fort Worth firefighter accused of fatally stabbing an Arkansas man last week near Hot Springs is in jail facing a murder charge, authorities said Tuesday.

Shea O’Neill, 40, of Benbrook was booked into the Garland County Jail in Hot Springs shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, according to jail records. His bail was set at $500,000.

Easton Hogue, 23, was stabbed in the neck Friday night just outside Hot Springs, according to Garland County Sheriff’s Department reports. Authorities learned of the stabbing when Hogue and two other people arrived at Mercy Hospital Hot Springs about 10:20 p.m. Hogue later died.

O’Neill had been found about a half-hour earlier near where Hogue was stabbed, investigators reported. He was trying to flag down motorists and was bloody. He had apparently been hit on the head.

Those involved gave different versions of what happened.

O’Neill told investigators that a woman offered him a ride. While he sat in the front seat, O’Neill said, two men hiding in the back repeatedly hit him in the back of the head, the reports said. After being hit 10 to 15 times, O’Neill told investigators, he pulled out his gun to defend himself but was disarmed.

“O’Neill says he then took out his knife, lunged in the direction of the attackers and cut one of them,” sheriff’s Lt. James Martin wrote in his report. “O’Neill says after the struggle the three individuals left him on the side of the road.”

The other occupants of the vehicle, however, told investigators that the four of them were going to smoke marijuana and had pulled onto a side road to relieve themselves. O’Neill and a man in the back seat were arguing when O’Neill lunged from the front seat toward the man, the occupants told investigators.

O’Neill faces a second-degree murder charge. A court appearance was set for Nov. 19, according to jail records.

Fort Worth fire officials said O’Neill has been with the department for 11 years. They declined to identify the station he is assigned to, saying they hope to avoid disrupting operations there.

“Because this is an active investigation, the Fire Department will make no further comments at this time,” department spokesman Tim Hardeman said Tuesday evening.

In February 2010, O’Neill was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a wreck on Airport Freeway. He refused to take a breath test or a field sobriety test, Bedford police reported. He was released from jail on $1,500 bail.

O’Neill continued to work as a firefighter pending the outcome of an internal administrative investigation, Fort Worth fire Capt. Tom Crow said in a 2010 interview. The status of the case was unavailable Tuesday morning.

In September 1994, before he was a firefighter, O’Neill was sentenced to two years’ probation for a July 1993 DWI in Fort Worth, according to Tarrant County criminal court records.

Staff writer Bill Miller contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.