What we know about Texas shooting spree that left six dead miles apart

Authorities in Texas said that six bodies were found at three different crime scenes in San Antonio and Austin. A link between the crimes was not established until the suspect, 34-year-old Shane James, was arrested on Tuesday night

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 07 December 2023 00:31 GMT
Texas shooting spree: Who is the shooter?

An eight-hour rampage in Texas at different crime scenes in the cities of San Antonio and Austin has left six people dead, including the suspect’s parents.

The Austin Police Department identified the suspect in the attacks as 34-year-old Shane James, who has a history of mental health illness and was previously arrested for attacking several family members. James, who is currently in custody, now faces charges of capital murders in connection with the daylong violence on Tuesday.

The dead were found in several homes miles from each other and authorities have yet to provide a motive in the killings.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said that James’ parents were among the six deceased victims. Authorities also said that James had previously been confronted during a mental health check at his parents’ home in San Antonio after he had cut off his ankle monitor from a previous misdemeanour domestic violence arrest.

The injured included two police officers and a cyclist, all of them are expected to recover, police said. Robin Henderson, Austin interim police chief, said at a news conference that police “did not determine” the three different murder scenes were connected until the suspect was arrested in a highway intersection as he tried to flee Tuesday night.

Law enforcement recovered shell casings from the crime scenes and seized a long-caliber weapon when James was arrested.

“We strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents,” Ms Henderson said.

Here’s everything we know about the case:

Timeline of the attacks 

Chief Henderson provided a timeline, saying an Austin Independent School District police officer was shot and injured at about 10.45am Tuesday.

Then about noon, a man and a woman were found dead in a home.

The suspect reportedly saw a handyman sitting in his car, which was parked in front of a home in the 7300 block of Shadywood Drive. A source told FOX 7 Austin that James allegedly shot through the man’s passenger window, fatally striking him.

A map of the attacks in San Antonio and Austin on Tuesday (ZeeMap/Comp)

A woman who was inside the home then came outside when she heard the disturbance. The suspect allegedly chased her and fatally shot her.

The source also told the outlet that James allegedly stole the handyman’s vehicle and drove it to the crime scene.

Another shooting happened shortly before 5pm, when a male cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Shane James, 34, is charged with capital murder (APD)

Two hours later, an officer found a suspected burglar in the backyard of an Austral Loop home, a male suspect. The man shot at the officer and the officer returned fire, Chief Henderson said.

The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to a hospital. The officer was listed in stable condition. Later, officers went inside the residence in Austral Loop to conduct a welfare check.

“Two apparent victims of the suspect were located inside with fatal injuries and pronounced deceased on scene,” Chief Henderson said.

She didn’t elaborate on how the four people died. Police said the suspect, who was not hit, drove away and police pursued him.

He crashed at about 7.15pm at a highway intersection and was taken into custody. The man had a gun in his possession at the time of the arrest.

Neighborhood residents speak to Austin Police officers in Austin, Texas late Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023 (©Sara Diggins/American-Statesman)

Bodies found in San Antonio 

In Bexar County, about 80 miles south of Austin, Sheriff Javier Salazar said his agency got a call from Austin police at about 7.45pm about a shooting.

He said the man they had in custody had links to a residence east of San Antonio, where two officers were sent.

“I believe they saw water coming out of the residence, appearing as if something was leaking inside,” Sheriff Salazar said.

James’ parents Phyllis James, 55, and Shane Matthew James Sr, 56, were found dead in the house.

Salazar said that the San Antonio crime scene was “grisly” but did not elaborate on how the victims were killed.

“Nobody deserves to die the way we believe that they died,” the sheriff said. “This is a very quiet family. The gentleman that lives in the home, he’s very involved in the community, in the neighbourhood watch.”

Sheriff Salazar said it’s believed the deaths in the home happened sometime between 10pm on Monday, when a sibling of James last spoke with their parents, and 9am on Tuesday, when a neighbour noticed James Sr’s vehicle was not in the driveway.

Sheriff Salazar has asked neighbours to check their doorbell cameras to help authorities establish a more clear timeline. The sheriff said he expects James to be charged with murder or capital murder in the following days.

Shane James charged with capital murders 

The identity of the suspect was released on Wednesday evening. James is currently being jailed at the Travis County Jail.

APD Chief Henderson had previously revealed that the suspect had an outstanding assault and family violence warrant.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Salazar said that James was arrested in January 2022 and charged with three misdemeanours for family assault after allegedly attacking a sibling and both his parents. The family reportedly told authorities that James did not belong in jail because he suffered from severe mental health issues.

“I believe that the request was made by the family members that he had nowhere to go but home,” Sheriff Salazar said. “March 7, he was released from jail. On March 8, we know that he cut his ankle monitor.”

Shane James was arrested in January 2022 and charged with three misdemeanours for family assault (Bexar County Sheriff’s Office)

In August, deputies responded to a mental health call at the James’ home.

The suspect was naked and having a mental health episode but was not arrested despite his three outstanding misdemeanours because the deputies were not allowed to force entry into his room. James barricaded inside his upstairs bedroom and used racial slurs as he confronted deputies trying to de-escalate the situation, Sheriff Salazar said.

The deputies left after James Sr promised to give them a call once his son left the room. Sheriff Salazar said that the father never did so.

The sheriff said his department is investigating how James, who was unmedicated at the time of the attack, gained access to a weapon.

Austin Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson speaks at a media briefing in Austin, Texas early Wednesday Dec. 6, 2023 (©Sara Diggins/American-Statesman)

Governor Greg Abbott condemned the violence and thanked law enforcement for their response.

“Texans grieve for the loved ones of the six Texans who were murdered by a hardened criminal who must never see the light of day again,” a statement by the governor read. “The State of Texas will provide all resources necessary to impose the full weight of law on this criminal for his despicable crimes.”

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