HOUSTON – The wife of a manager shot to death Tuesday at his workplace in Houston is speaking out and has a message for the suspected shooter, who was arrested earlier Wednesday hours away from the crime scene.
Jason Yanko was a dedicated dad to three young kids, a loving husband and provider for the entire family. Michelle Yanko said her husband had been working since January at Val-Fit Inc. in Houston as a corporate operations manager, and she and the kids moved to the Kingwood area from Atlanta over the weekend.
"We drove all day Saturday. We got here Sunday morning at about 4 o'clock in the morning. We have been camping out in sleeping bags. Monday he stayed home from work because all of our stuff got here and Tuesday he went back to work," said Michelle Yanko.
That was the last time she saw her husband. According to newly released court documents, Jason Yanko and a warehouse manager called the suspect, Rodney Jackson, into a conference room at Val-Fit Inc. around noon to fire him, but Jackson refused to sign the termination papers, left the room and slammed the door.
The warehouse manager said Jason Yanko followed Jackson out of the building and watched him go to his vehicle. Jackson walked back up the building and asked Yanko if they could go back inside, but Yanko said that was not necessary.
Court documents state Jackson said, 'Are you sure?' then pulled out a gun and started firing. The warehouse manager said he told Yanko to run, then ran back inside the building where he heard around 10-11 gunshots.
A receptionist told investigators it looked like Yanko had been shot in the face. Court documents state Yanko, 40, did not have a weapon on him and still had Jackson's termination papers in his hand. A total of 25 shell casings were found within a few yards of Yanko's body.
Jackson then stole a company pickup truck and fled the scene. He eventually turned himself in to Fort Stockton police in west Texas at around 3 a.m. Wednesday.
"Jason didn't deserve this. He ripped away a man who does so many good things for the world and people and his family and he just ripped him out of our lives and it's just not fair," said Michelle Yanko.
He leaves behind three children and his wife.
Val-Fit issued a statement Wednesday that read, "We do remind everyone to please respect the privacy of all involved as we mourn the loss of a very nice man."
Jackson, 49, is charged with murder. He will face a judge in Houston once he is extradited from west Texas. That's expected to happen by the end of the week.