Authorities say a man was having a mental breakdown and had a pistol in his hand when he was shot by police early Tuesday morning.
The shooting happened as law enforcement agencies were responding to a burglary in the Lindale area. The man was allegedly breaking into his girlfriend’s home through a window after she had locked him out, according to Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.
The suspect had reportedly “taken a lot of pills” and was having a mental breakdown, likely “induced by the medication he was overtaking,” Smith said during a press conference Tuesday morning.
The woman’s mother called 911 to alert them of the burglary around 1:30 a.m. A few minutes later, the mother told dispatch the suspect had made it into the home and kicked down the bedroom door where her daughter was hiding with her two children, Smith said.
The suspect, whose identity has not been released yet, then began assaulting his girlfriend and tried to take her phone.
Smith County deputies were dispatched immediately after learning the call was within their jurisdiction and arrived at the home at 2 a.m. By that time, Lindale police got to the scene and were told a 2-year-old was still in the home.
Smith said deputies tried to talk to the suspect at the front door of the home until 2:13 a.m., when they confirmed he had a pistol in his hand. An officer shot the suspect shortly after.
“They started trying to negotiate with him to come out of the residence, apparently he finally came out, but he had a pistol in his hand,” Smith said. They tried to negotiate with him for a minute, and it went south. Our officers did what they needed to do — unfortunately what they had to do.”
Nearby EMS treated the suspect and took him to UT Health in Tyler, where he was pronounced dead.
Smith said the Texas Rangers Division is investigating the case, which is routine for officer-involved shootings, to determine the specifics of the shooting. Authorities are also checking to see if the suspect had any prior encounters with police or if there were previous calls at this residence.
The officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave pending competition of the investigation, which is protocol, according to Smith.
“We’re just glad that all officers and occupants of the residence are OK physically and we pray for the family of the individual who was shot,” Smith said.
The officer will also be required to see a psychologist or counselor before being cleared to return to duty.
“Nobody ever wants to be put in that position, where you take somebody’s life,” Smith said. “We’re providing our officer with any kind of care we can for him and his family, and his co-workers that were out there including Lindale PD.”
The press conference finished with Smith encouraging residents to use Text 911 instead of reaching out via third party. When the person directly on scene is speaking to dispatch, the response has the potential to be faster and information can be relayed more accurately.
The identity of the suspect will most likely be released Wednesday morning, Smith said. An autopsy was being performed Tuesday.