A triple murder investigation in Waller has uncovered a mass-shooting plot that investigators said was being hatched by the man suspected of killing his parents and older brother, Local 2 Investigates reported on Wednesday.
Trey Sesler, 22, of Waller, was jailed on charges of using a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle to kill both his parents and his brother at the home he shared with them in Waller. But sources involved in the investigation told Local 2 Investigates they have uncovered a much wider plan to open fire and kill large numbers of people in a highly-public area.
Those sources said an exact target or location had not yet been determined, and they were unsure whether Sesler was anywhere close to carrying out the plot for mass bloodshed.
Raid teams from the Waller County Sheriff's Office, the FBI and Texas Rangers converged on a home on Peebles Street in Hempstead, where Sesler was often seen hanging out with friends in an abandoned family home.
Neighbors told Local 2 Investigates they often saw Sesler carrying guns to and from the home.
A camera crew from Local 2 Investigates was the only news team present when the raid team suited up with rubber gloves and toted shovels into the home and the back yard.
Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said Wednesday's raid teams were looking for guns, computers, or "writings" that may shed light on what else the accused attacker was up to.
"We don't want to send a panic alarm through this county or certainly the city of Waller or anywhere else," he said of the raid. "We're going to make sure that we feel like we've got the neighborhood safe."
He declined to discuss a motive for the family's killing, but said, "We are aware of some difficulties that have been between dad and son." He said the father had certain expectations of the 22-year-old who was still living at home, and the two sometimes clashed about that.
The father, Lawton Sesler, was killed along with Rhonda Sesler and their older son, Mark Sesler.
Sources involved in the investigation described horrible bloodshed and carnage inside the family's home, along with signs of an angry fight. Those sources said they found a note that indicated it was written by Trey Sesler, apologizing for carrying out the killings.
He was interrogated for hours by Texas Rangers and the FBI, according to Sheriff Smith.
"His demeanor, it is quiet, he is respondent. He will tear up sometimes. He realizes the severity of this but none of us ever know 100 percent what is in that individual's mind and what he's thinking," Smith said.
When asked by Local 2 Investigates about the mass-shooting plot now tied to Sesler, Smith would only say he believes it was caught in time.
Sesler was scheduled to remain in jail, where a magistrate judge was set to hear the initial details of the case from behind bars. After that, sheriff's investigators said the arrest warrant would be released. Smith declined to reveal any details from that document.
Waller Police Chief Phil Rehak said, "There is a lot more to this."
The sheriff said he is trying to track down other friends who may have been aware of the mass shooting plot, but he said investigators had a tough task ahead to locate anyone who may have been conversing with him online.
Sesler had posted dozens of videos on YouTube, some of which involved his pointing guns toward the camera or shooting various items. Some of his videos also acted out scenes where people seemed to be falling victim to gunfire.
The Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District said that Lawton Sesler was an award-winning teacher who was described by the principal as "a legend at this school."
The district released the following statement.
"CFISD students and staff members are saddened by the news of the tragic death of Mr. Sesler. With more than 30 years of teaching experience, he made the difference in the lives of hundreds of students during his career. He was a Spotlight teacher in 2000 and 2006, selected for his outstanding contributions as a teacher.
"Counselors are available for students at Robison today to help them cope with the loss of their teacher."
Sesler had taught fifth grade science at Robison Elementary for at least 16 years, and one of his students was seen leaving the building in tears with her mother.
"When I walked in my classroom, everybody was crying, crying their eyes out. It was just terrible," said 11-year-old Maddie Powell.
"It's hard to take. It's hard to put it through your head that someone so funny (with) so much energy is gone."
She said Mr. Sesler was known for a dry sense of humor that reached her fellow classmates on a daily basis, and he also would frequently sing in class.
"He would put on little videos of science stuff and he would sing the theme song or something. It was just funny."
She wiped away tears and said, "It's kind of like losing a family member."