Officers open fire, kill gunman in Tomball

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter , Kayla Ayres

TOMBALL, Texas - A 45-year-old handyman armed with a pistol-grip shotgun was shot to death by law enforcement officers Tuesday night.

According to the Harris County Sheriff's Department, the gunman led several Montgomery County sheriff's deputies and a Tomball police officer on a high-speed chase through Tomball nearly ramming into several innocent drivers along the way.

The entire episode started with a traffic stop in Montgomery County. Deputies were told the gunman had been driving down the road in his pickup truck waving a shotgun out of the window and pointing it at passing cars.

According to investigators, when deputies finally caught up to him and tried to stop him, the gunman took off, leading them on that high-speed chase.

The chase ended at the intersection of Bowsman Drive and Drum Heller, with the driver jumping the curb and stopping near the front door to his grandmother's house.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Gilliland said at that point the gunman hopped out of his truck and pointed the shotgun directly at his own head.

"He first put the gun to his head, the three law enforcement officers were telling him to put the weapon down, at some point, he pointed the weapon at the officers and, fearing for their safety, that's when they fired," Gilliand said.

Several eyewitnesses who watched that chase end on their street told Channel 2 News that it appeared the officers fired between 30 and 40 shots.

Phillip Crump saw the whole thing.

"The police kept telling him to drop the weapon and get down, drop the weapon and get down, and then there were all these gunshots," Crump said.

The gunman fell to the ground and died just steps from his grandmother's front door.

The chase and shooting is under investigation.

The two Montgomery County deputies have been with agency for seven and nine years respectively. The Tomball officer is a captain assigned to the Patrol Bureau with 21 years of police experience. The officers are currently assigned to administrative duties, pending a review of their fitness for duty. 

Authorities say at the time, the gunman had a felony warrant for his arrest from Grimes County. They have not released his name, pending an identification from the medical examiner. 

"He didn't ever want to go back to prison," neighbor and friend Marnie Thornton told KPRC.  

Thornton and several other neighbors described the gunman as a good friend and helpful neighbor. 

"He'll build you a motorcycle, he'll build you a fence, he'll do anything for anybody," Thornton said. 

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