Suspect in TCU student’s shooting used pellet gun in 2 downtown robberies: court records

Matthew Purdy, the 21-year-old man accused of fatally shooting TCU student Wes Smith on Friday, used a pellet gun during two robberies in downtown Fort Worth in July 2021, according to court records.

In a copy of the arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram, investigators said the two robberies, which occurred less than eight hours apart on July 20, 2021, followed a similar pattern. Purdy pleaded guilty to the robberies in September 2022.

The first victim told Fort Worth police he was walking in the 600 block of Burnett Street around 3 p.m. when someone wearing a blue mask came up behind him, put a gun to his back and demanded his phone. The victim was not carrying a phone, and the robber took his credit cards and left the area, according to the affidavit.

The victim described the suspect and firearm to the police and said he had been in fear of death or serious bodily injury, the affidavit said. The victim also told police his credit cards had been used at some stores near downtown but were declined.

Officers went to an AT&T store where someone had attempted to charge the cards for nearly $2,000, according to the affidavit. Two store employees told them a man matching the suspect’s description had tried to use the cards to buy a cell phone on an existing AT&T account belonging to Matthew Purdy.

The second victim told police he was walking in the 400 block of Taylor Street around 10:30 p.m. when someone wearing a ski mask came up behind him and held a gun to his back. The robber demanded the victim’s backpack and ordered him to empty his pockets, according to the affidavit.

The victim realized the weapon was fake and with the help of bystanders wrestled the suspect to the ground, investigators said. Police identified the suspect as Matthew Purdy and arrested him at the scene on the allegations of aggravated robbery, the affidavit said.

Police realized the arrested suspect’s name was the same name listed on the AT&T account where the first victim’s credit cards had been used. Purdy’s description also matched the description of the suspect in the first robbery, and the tactics used in the two robberies were similar, investigators said. Purdy was found with a ski mask and pellet gun at the second robbery scene, according to the affidavit.

On July 22, 2021, an officer went to a 7-Eleven where the victim’s credit cards were used and watched surveillance video. Someone matching the suspect’s description walked into the store and selected items that he tried to purchase with a card. It appeared from the video that the person tried to use the card several times but finally paid cash, according to the affidavit.

The officer identified the person in the video as Purdy based on his booking photo and a tattoo on his left forearm.

Purdy’s bond was set at $100,000 in the robbery case, according to the affidavit. After pleading guilty in September 2022 to the robberies, Purdy received deferred adjudication with community supervision for eight years, court records state. He was not allowed to buy or possess a gun as part of the probation conditions.

It’s unclear how Purdy obtained the gun he is accused of using to kill Smith. According to an arrest warrant affidavit in the murder case, Purdy told homicide detectives that he did not know Smith and he could not give a clear reason why he approached the student outside a bar in the city’s West 7th district and shot him three times.

TCU student Wes Smith, who was shot and killed Sept. 1, 2023, in Fort Worth, is being remembered as an outgoing young man who was a joy to be around. LinkedIn
TCU student Wes Smith, who was shot and killed Sept. 1, 2023, in Fort Worth, is being remembered as an outgoing young man who was a joy to be around. LinkedIn

Following his arrest Friday on a murder charge in Smith’s death, prosecutors filed a petition for Purdy to be convicted and sentenced to prison on the robbery charges.

Purdy is scheduled to have an initial court appearance on Monday in the murder case.