A chase following a shooting early Monday at a Gilmer convenience store ended with a suspect and an Upshur County Sheriff’s deputy injured in gunfire.
Upshur County Chief Deputy David Hazel said the suspect was taken to a hospital after the incident in the Glenwood community, but he did not know the extent of the suspect’s injuries.
At about 1:40 a.m. Monday, Gilmer police and Upshur County deputies responded to the CEFCO store at the intersection of U.S. 271 and Texas 300 in Gilmer.
According to the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement learned a man fired multiple rounds inside and outside of the store. Several rounds were shot in the direction of people, according to the office.
No one was reported injured at the location, but there was property damage, according to the sheriff’s office.
“The reason for the suspect’s behavior at that location is being investigated,” the sheriff’s office said in a release. The name of the suspect has not been released late Monday.
Officers located the suspect’s vehicle traveling south on U.S. 300 toward Longview, and law enforcement pursued the vehicle.
“The chase extended into southern Upshur County and northern Gregg County,” the release said. “The suspect shot at officers during the chase.”
The man eluded capture at that point. While checking a possible address for the suspect car on Snider Road, an Upshur County deputy took gunfire to his vehicle from the area of a residence off of Green Hills Road in the county, the sheriff’s office said.
Longview Police Department, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Gilmer Police Department and Ore City Police Department responded to assist.
“Law Enforcement was coordinating further strategy to capture the suspect when, at approximately 5 a.m., the suspect drove up to law enforcement officers that were staged nearby,” the sheriff’s office said. “The suspect began shooting at law enforcement personnel. Officers and deputies returned fire.”
An Upshur County Patrol Deputy was shot during the altercation. He was treated and released from a Longview medical center, the sheriff’s department said.
“The suspect was shot and was transported to a Longview medical center where he remains at the time of this press release,” the sheriff’s department said at about 12:30 p.m. Monday. “This investigation is not complete so specific charges have not yet been fully determined.”
The Texas Rangers are leading the investigation into the incident.
The scene was blocked off through the morning by Gregg County Sheriff’s Office SUV at one end of Green Hills Road near Snider Road, and an Upshur County Sheriff’s vehicle at the other end. Yellow evidence markers could be seen on the ground near Snider Road.
Neighbors noticed the commotion and sound of gunfire in the early morning hours.
Tony and Diane Martin said they live at North Fuller Road and Walnut Road. She said the couple heard a police chase at about 2 a.m. Martin said police vehicles in the chase had their lights and sirens on, and it woke up the couple.
“There was probably anywhere between nine and 11 police cars, including a SWAT van, in high pursuit. I mean they were going down Walnut Street really, really fast.”
Matthew Ward was in the area overnight. He was parked alongside Green Hills Road with a woman named Kara Lea and his dog Kane at about 11 a.m. Monday, waiting to go back to a residence where they were staying.
Ward said at about 2 or 3 a.m., he was getting ready for bed and before heading off to sleep, he heard gunshots.
Hearing gunshots is not too abnormal for the area, he said, but these seemed more rapid than normal.
“Then, we heard it again, maybe four or five more rounds,” he said. “This time it was a lot louder like they could have been either in our yard or close to our yard, and that made me nervous.”
Ward said they called the police and were told someone was on the loose in the area. He said police told them to lock the doors and turn the lights out.
”And I said, ‘Hell, no,’” he said, “Because I was afraid they were going to stumble through the woods see that little cabin and say, ‘This is a nice place for us to camp out.’”
He said he, a woman and his dog turned out the lights, grabbed a shotgun and headed toward the car. They had been driving around since then.
The last officer-involved shooting involving the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office was on Jan. 2, 2017, in Gilmer, according to News-Journal records.
Dale Hightower Jr., 53, was shot and killed by an officer after making suicidal statements and holding two women hostage in a home on the 1700 block of Cottonwood Drive in Upshur County.
Hightower came out of the house with a rifle and pointed it at officers, ignoring commands to drop the weapon, according to a report.