GLADEWATER -- After receiving a summation of final autopsy results, Upshur County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rhonda Welch formally ruled Monday that the March 9 shooting death of New Diana ISD agriculture teacher David Gross was a suicide.
Welch told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that she received a statement Monday from the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas saying an autopsy showed the 37-year-old teacher's death was due to "gunshot wound of the head-- suicide."
Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton had announced the week after the shooting that it appeared Gross, who was found dead at his Union Grove home, had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. However, Betterton's statement did not say whether the incident was presumed to be accidental or suicide.
"Based on the evidence at the scene, as well as the preliminary autopsy report, it appears Gross died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No additional information will be released at this time," Betterton had said in a two-paragraph statement released to news media.
Gross was the son of an Upshur County deputy sheriff, Don Gross, who is also a member of the New Diana ISD board of trustees.
Betterton said Upshur County deputies responded to David Gross's home Friday afternoon, March 9, "regarding a call for service. (David) Gross was discovered inside the residence and was deceased from a single gunshot wound."
The sheriff said he requested Texas Ranger Ken Bond and Gregg County sheriff's investigators to conduct the death investigation.
Welch pronounced Gross dead at his home at 300 Sunbird and ordered an autopsy. She said within days after the shooting that the Southwest institute's preliminary autopsy results showed Gross sustained a self-inflicted pistol wound to the upper forehead.
One week after the shooting, she had said she would she issue a formal ruling on cause of death when she received the final autopsy report.
Gross had come in from a Houston stock show attended by New Diana students to pick up more livestock, and was in the course of returning to Houston when he went by his house, according to New Diana ISD Superintendent Joyce Sloan. His death came on the last school day before New Diana ISD took spring break.
Funeral services were held at the Norton Lovell Auditorium on the New Diana High School campus March 12. One mourner, Robert Cox, estimated that 1,000 persons attended, including Future Farmers of America members and law enforcement officers from throughout East Texas.
Hundreds lined up for the visitation with Gross's family at Grubbs-Loyd Funeral Home in Diana the prior night.