A man in custody in central Texas is suspected of fatally shooting his parents near San Antonio this week before traveling to the Austin area and killing four people and injuring three others in an eight-hour span Tuesday, authorities said.
The suspect, Shane James, 34, was arrested in Austin on Tuesday night, and is charged with capital murder in one county with more charges expected in another, authorities said. James had mental health issues for years, one sheriff said Wednesday, and had previously been arrested on suspicion of assaulting his family members.
As authorities in Travis and Bexar counties work to piece together how the brutal violence unfolded and whether the suspect had any connection to the victims outside his parents, the affected communities are now forced to confront the all-too-familiar grief of gun violence in the US and live with the lifelong trauma it leaves behind.
Here’s what we know about the killings in Texas.
Parents found dead in ‘grisly’ scene
James is believed to have shot and killed his parents at the family’s San Antonio-area home sometime between 10 p.m. Monday, when a sibling reported last talking to them, and 9 a.m. Tuesday, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said.
The parents were Phyllis James, 55, and Shane James Sr., 56, the sheriff said.
Several gunshots were fired from a “large caliber handgun,” the sheriff told reporters on Wednesday. He urged anyone in the area who may have heard or seen anything in those hours to contact authorities.
Investigators believe the suspect then traveled about 80 miles to the Austin area in Travis County, where the rest of the violence unfolded throughout Tuesday before James was arrested, authorities said.
Bexar County authorities didn’t know about the deaths of the suspect’s parents until Tuesday night, when Austin police – having arrested James in the Texas capital – contacted Bexar County because they’d connected him to his family’s San Antonio-area home, Salazar said.
Deputies went to the home after the message from Austin police. The deputies saw water running from under a door and forced their way into the home, where they found the suspect’s parents inside a small room, Salazar said. The sheriff described the crime scene as “grisly” and said this had been a very “quiet family.”
How the violence in Austin unfolded
In the Austin area, police responded to a shooting just after 10:40 a.m.
An Austin Independent School District police officer was shot, sustaining a non-life-threatening wound, while on duty at a school campus, the district’s interim superintendent, Matias Segura, said in an online post Wednesday.
The officer is recovering at home, Segura said, adding that “his swift response was key in keeping our campuses safe.”
Just before noon, Austin police responded to reports of a shooting about a 12-mile drive from the school, police said. There, officers found two people with gunshot wounds: Emmanuel Pop Ba, 32, and Sabrina Rahman, 24. Pop Ba was pronounced dead at the scene, and Rahman was taken to a hospital, where she died, police said.
It’s unclear what their connection was to each other or the suspect.
Hours later, at roughly 5:47 p.m., police responded to a call about a 39-year-old male cyclist shot about 6 miles from the second crime scene. The cyclist was taken to a hospital and has since been released and is recovering from his injuries, police said.
At about 6:48 p.m., authorities responded to a burglary call, Austin police said, at a home just about 2 miles from where the cyclist’s shooting was reported.
Police found James in the home’s backyard, and the suspect “immediately fired several gunshots” at an officer, who returned fire but suffered multiple gunshot wounds, police said. The officer was taken to a hospital, was released and is recovering from his injuries.
The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle and officers pursued him, Austin Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson said. The suspect crashed the vehicle around 7:14 p.m. and was arrested, the chief said. He had a firearm on him, Henderson added.
Inside the home involved in the burglary call, two people were found with “fatal injuries” and pronounced dead, police said. Police didn’t immediately release the names of those two people or specify how those injuries were sustained.
The suspect was booked in Travis County jail and is charged with counts of capital murder, the Travis County district attorney’s office said. James is expected to remain in custody pending his trial, the office said.
He was also booked on an outstanding warrant that had been issued on accusations of assault and family violence, Austin police said.
“Based on information obtained over the course of these investigations, we strongly believe that one suspect is responsible for all of these incidents,” Henderson said.
Sheriff: Suspect had mental health problems
James was arrested in January 2022 on three misdemeanor assault charges, and the victims are believed to have been his parents and a sibling, Salazar said. The assault allegations involved “pushing” and “scratching,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.
The suspect’s family told the sheriff’s office a few days later he “has mental health issues” and did not belong in jail, Salazar said.
The conditions of his bond were altered and James was released from jail on March 7, 2022. A day later, he cut off his ankle monitor, the sheriff said. “Those three charges then became warrants for his arrest,” he added.
On June 6, 2023, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law making it a state jail felony for anyone to tamper with or remove a required ankle monitor. The legislation was a response to calls for action after violent crimes committed by people required to wear ankle monitors as a parole condition – including the deadly shooting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in October 2022.
In August 2023, deputies were sent to James’ house for “a mental health episode,” Salazar said. The suspect was upset and insulting to the deputies and would not let authorities inside his bedroom. Deputies eventually left and asked the suspect’s father to call so they could return and arrest James, but they were never called back, the sheriff said.
“It’s always possible that we could have done more,” Salazar said Wednesday about the summer incident, but said deputies were “making every effort to avoid a violent confrontation.”
James is expected to be charged in Bexar County with murder or capital murder “in the next day, maybe the next day or two” for his parents’ killings, Salazar said.
“It appears, by all accounts, he suffered with mental illness for some years,” the sheriff said in a Wednesday news conference. “From what the family members are telling us, he’s had mental health issues for some years based upon some of the history that we’ve seen.”
Suspect was discharged from the military
The suspect was also in the military but was discharged “due to some sort of a domestic violence incident in the military,” Salazar said. The sheriff said his office found about the military discharge on Wednesday.
The suspect served as an Army infantry officer from February 2013 to August 2015, according to an Army spokesperson.
James had no deployments on record, Lt. Col. Ruth Castro said Wednesday. His last rank held was a first lieutenant, which is typically held by officers with 18 to 24 months in uniform.
He separated from the Army on August 17, 2015.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Ashley Killough and Haley Britzky contributed to this report.
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