HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – An active-duty soldier is in custody after firing an air rifle into construction homes prompted a lockdown at two Spring ISD schools.
Deputies say an off-duty federal agent was house hunting inside a north Harris County house when he heard one of the windows shatter. He looked out to see a man on a nearby porch with what looked like a high-powered rifle, so he called 911.
That sparked a big response from sheriff's deputies who surrounded the area near Barren Springs at Ella and locked down two nearby schools for a while. But the man wasn't a sniper and he wasn't shooting at the agent.
At least 14 sheriff's patrol units arrived in short order. They blocked off streets around the house and set up a perimeter to contain the supposed sniper.
Spring ISD's Eikenroht and Hoyland elementary schools were locked down. The sheriff's SWAT team rolled up about 15 minutes later in an armored vehicle and began searching for the man with the gun.
They found him nearby. He was identified as Army Spc. Ramon Hooks, an active-duty Army specialist and Iraq veteran, who has been in the Army for six years. Deputies say he was shooting, but not with a high-powered rifle.
"The suspect was located. Come to find out the weapon was not a high-powered rifle; it was a pellet gun. The suspect we believe was just shooting out window in a house, no intent to harm anybody, just an act of criminal mischief," said Capt. Jay Coons, with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
But Hooks' wife says he wasn't shooting at the windows, but rather at a paper target he set up behind the under-construction house, about 100 feet away from the family's porch.
"He does it every day," said Dionne Hooks. "He's not shooting out the windows. When he hits the target, it may stray and I'm not saying he didn't shoot accidentally those windows, but those windows have been broken since we moved in here because there are kids in the neighborhood, squatters in the neighborhood that go into to these houses and do whatever."
Deputies say Hooks still could face criminal mischief charges.
The two school lockdowns were lifted at around 1:45 p.m. Monday.
Sheriff's deputies identify the neighborhood as a high-crime area. Some neighbors said they were happy to see the quick response by the sheriff's department.