BREAKING: The sheriff’s office reports a suspect has been arrested and will be charged in the killing of a deputy in a Houston suburb, the AP reports.
Update, 4:48 p.m.: Officials say a suspect has been arrested in the fatal shooting of a deputy at a suburban Houston gas station.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman was holding a news conference at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the arrest. Officials with the sheriff’s office declined to comment on details of the arrest or what charge the suspect might face until the news conference.
Earlier Saturday, Deputy Thomas Gilliland, a Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said officials were questioning a person of interest and had a search warrant for a two-story brick home.
Original post: A Texas sheriff’s deputy stopped to fill up his patrol car at a suburban Houston gas station Friday night when a man approached from behind and “literally shot him to death,” Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said.
Deputy Darren Goforth, 47, died after being shot several times in what Hickman described as “an unprovoked, execution-style killing of a police officer.” Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the force, is survived by a wife and two children, ages 5 and 12.
The manhunt for the lone gunman stretched into Saturday afternoon as authorities pleaded for the public to provide any tips about the shooting. Investigators said they believed Goforth was targeted for his uniform and described the working motive as “absolute madness.”
But, in speaking about the incident, authorities also referenced the broader national conversation regarding the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they police. Hickman said there was a “dangerous national rhetoric” regarding police.
“At any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen — this rhetoric has gotten out of control,” Hickman said. “We’ve heard ‘black lives matter,’ ‘all lives matter.’ Well, cops’ lives matter too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier, and just say ‘lives matter,’ and take that to the bank.”
Goforth is the 23rd officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit group that tracks line-of-duty fatalities. Fewer officers were shot and killed during the first half of 2015 than during the same time period in 2014, according to the group.
The deputy had finished working a routine incident and stopped at a Chevron to pump gas into his car. “A male suspect came up behind the deputy and shot the deputy multiple times. The deputy then fell to the ground,” Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Gilliland told reporters Friday night. “The suspect then continued over to him and shot the deputy again multiple times as he laid on the ground.”
A witness called 911 to report the shooting, Gilliland said. Hickman said the earlier incident Goforth worked on and the shooting appear to be unrelated.
Police released grainy surveillance photos and guessed the suspect to be between 20 and 25 years old. He fled the scene of the shooting in a red or maroon Ford Ranger truck. Authorities spoke with an individual Saturday morning as part of the investigation, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman told The Post. No suspect has been named and no one has been taken into custody, Hickman said.
Surveillance footage shows several other people coming and going through the gas station at the time of the shooting, Hickman said.
“Please come forward if you have any information. It is time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement,” District Attorney Devon Anderson said at a Saturday news conference. “There are a few bad apples in every profession. That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement. The vast majority of law enforcement are there to do the right thing.”
A representative with Houston-based 100 Club, a nonprofit organization that supports the families of officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, said the group will give $20,000 to Goforth’s family to help “with immediate needs.”
“It’s a a very, very tough moment right now for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office,” Gilliland said. “I would ask that you keep us in your prayers and your thoughts.”
[This post has been updated.]