Maxine McAfee and her sisters had more questions than answers Saturday, hours after a Harrison County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot their brother.
“How can you justify shooting somebody in the chest when you’ve got him on the ground?” she asked. “He already had him down. Why would you shoot someone when you’ve got him on the ground?”
Arther McAfee Jr., 61, an Army veteran with a history of mental illness, died after a welfare check at his rural home northeast of the Longview city limits turned violent.
McAfee lived adjacent to other family members on Curtis Black Road off FM 2208.
Harrison County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jay Webb did not respond Saturday to a call about the shooting. Sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Bobby Gibbons said at the scene that he had not spoken with the deputy who shot McAfee, and the Texas Rangers are investigating.
Attempts to reach Ranger Joshua Mason, who interviewed sisters Maxine and Lorine McAfee at the scene, were not successful through multiple channels, including the Department of Public Safety communications office. The Rangers are stationed with the DPS.
It was the second officer-involved shooting in the area within 24 hours, after a Gladewater police officer shot a person Friday night. The department has not released details about that shooting.
McAfee’s other sister, Ollie Holman, said Saturday afternoon that she had called 911 that morning, worried about her brother.
“When I called 911, I said ‘He has a mental (disability),’ ” she said as she stood with her sisters Saturday in a mobile home next door to the roped-off residence where her brother lived on the longtime family land.
Lorine McAfee, who lives next door to her brother, said a deputy arrived about 10:30 a.m.
“I let him inside the house,” she said, describing the deadly encounter she then witnessed. “He called Arther, and Arther came out of his bedroom. But he came out swinging.”
Lorine McAfee said her brother told the deputy that he was in his house away from everyone and that he wasn’t doing anything to anyone. “The deputy went back in the hall where (McAfee) was, and he (used a stun gun on) him, and he fell to the floor.”
She said her brother did not own a gun. He kept a knife in his room, she said, but he was not carrying it when he emerged from the bedroom.
Lorine McAfee said after her brother had fallen to the floor, she held his legs while the deputy held his torso and tried to handcuff him.
“He tried to turn (McAfee) onto his belly,” she said. “The cop unsnapped his gun and shot him two times. He was on the floor.”
She said her brother was hit twice in the chest.
The family learned Saturday afternoon from another sheriff’s deputy that their brother died at a Longview medical center.
The sisters said the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office had come to check McAfee’s welfare last summer but had sent two deputies and a paramedic who were able to secure him.
McAfee then was taken to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Dallas for a psychological exam and stay.
Maxine McAfee said the sheriff’s office knew her brother could be a handful, and the deputy who responded alone Saturday should not have tried to handle him himself.
“He should have come out of there and called for backup,” she said. “If we knew he was going to shoot him, we would have called some friends to come out and get him out. We didn’t call for them to shoot him.”
The afternoon was made more harrowing by the absence of any news of their brother’s condition. Some of the sisters went to the Longview hospital but were rebuffed by staff citing the health privacy law despite their kinship with the single man.
The family was optimistic that the Texas Rangers will be fair and thorough in the investigation.
“There is no excuse for two times in the chest,” Maxine McAfee said. “That doesn’t make no sense. That means you’re trying to kill him.”