Suspect in deadly Liberty County shooting kills himself, officials say

Liberty County deputy injured in exchange of gunfire

CLEVELAND, Texas – The man who authorities said was responsible for a deadly shooting Wednesday in Liberty County that was followed by a shootout that injured a deputy killed himself after he was found hiding under a boat, officials said.

Pavol Vido, 65, was being sought in connection with the pair of shootings -- one at a plumbing shop near Cleveland and the other in the parking lot of a veterinary clinic.

Here’s a closer look at how the story unfolded.

Deadly plumbing shop shooting

Authorities are investigating at the scene of a shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on May 29, 2019.

Capt. Ken DeFoor, of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, said Vido shot three people at B Dependable plumbing shop on FM Road 321 near New Salem Road and fled the scene in a white 2004 Mercury car.

DeFoor said one of the victims, identified only as a female, died at the scene.

Two men were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, DeFoor said. They were in serious condition.

When asked about the condition of the two surviving victims, Sgt. Erik Burse, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said, "I can't go into detail right now, but it's not good."

"Serious is not good, so we're hoping that these people pull through," Burse said.

Tabitha Jordan lives near the plumbing business.

"I was sitting there having my coffee, I heard a gunshot," she said. "I heard a man yelling out in pain and then within three minutes of that gunshot, I mean, police were on it."

Others told KPRC2 that Vido was no stranger to the area. Authorities said he lived on the property of the plumbing business and was served eviction papers on Tuesday.

Deputy injured in shootout

DeFoor said Deputy Richard Whitten, a four-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, arrived at the plumbing shop scene just as Vido was leaving in the white car. DeFoor said Whitten followed Vido until he pulled into the parking lot of a veterinary clinic about two miles away.

“The suspect jumped out of his car, started shooting at the deputy, and the deputy returned fire,” DeFoor said. “The deputy was hit one time in the throat.”

Lisa Bettilyon, the manager of Big Thicket Veterinary Clinic, said she heard a bunch of yelling and screaming but wasn't sure what was going on outside her office until she opened the back door.

She said she came face-to-face with Vido.

"I actually saw the gunman he was sitting at the back door with the gun pointed at the cops. I turned around and slammed the door and hollered at the three other employees and told them to go hide, that there was a gunman outside. I was trying to get everybody safe," Bettilyon said.

DeFoor said Whitten was flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston for treatment, and he was conscious and talking when he was put into the air ambulance.

Officials said Whitten was listed in critical condition Thursday morning.

Search for Vido ends with suicide

Multiple law enforcement agencies joined the manhunt for Vido, scouring a massive area around each shooting scene.

Vido’s car was found next to a mobile home located in a wooded area between the two shooting scenes.

Burse said search dogs led investigators to a boat in a wooded area not far from where Vido’s car was found, and Vido was hiding under it.

Burse said that as negotiators were trying to convince Video to surrender, they heard a single gunshot. Vido was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound a short time later, Burse said.

Looking for motive

Investigators have said they are still trying to determine what led to the shootings, but they know Vido had recently been served with an eviction notice.

“He did live directly behind the plumbing shop and was in the process of being evicted,” DeFoor said.
Investigators said they are still trying to determine if the eviction may have motivated the shootings.

READ: What we know about Pavol Vido, the suspect in Liberty County shootings

Jordan said she remembers Vido from a time months ago when she said she found him hiding in the woods on her property.

"He never said anything to me. He didn't tell. He boogied. As soon as he knew I was calling the Sheriff's Office, he was gone," she said.

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