Volunteer firefighter killed by deputy fire marshal in shooting in Waller County

WALLER COUNTY, Texas – A deputy fire marshal has been charged with manslaughter following the weekend shooting death of a volunteer firefighter. Joshua Hahn remains in the Waller County jail on a $100,000 bond.

Sheriff Troy Guidry said the shooting was not an intentional act, but a reckless one.

Investigators said Douglas Smith, 18, was shot one time while visiting a home off Bowler Road last Sunday. Prosecutor Sean Whittmore said at least five people were in the kitchen of the home when Hahn was showing off his rifle.

“The arrested individual said he had unloaded his firearm, he was carrying it and he dropped it and it went off. That was the initial report,” said Whittmore.

Whittmore said sheriff’s investigators got a different version from witnesses.

“Witnesses later said a different story happened, indicating he had been pointing the rifle at the individual, that he pulled the trigger and it went off,” said Whittmore.

Whittmore also said there is no indication this was intentional. He said Hahn ejected the magazine from the rifle but didn’t check whether a bullet was still in the chamber.

“So when he pulled the trigger a .223 round fired,” said Whittmore.

The shooting was in such close proximity, fragments exited Smith’s body and hit another man in the chest, according to Whittmore. That man survived.

Smith was a volunteer firefighter with the Tri-County fire department. Flags were lowered to half-staff outside the department, but the fire chief declined to comment.

Smith’s family created a GoFundMe account to help cover the cost of funeral expenses.

Hahn is also a volunteer firefighter in Waller County but his main job is as a deputy fire marshal at the University of Houston’s main campus. According to an online biography, Hahn has worked in the fire and EMS service for 11 years, holds numerous state certifications, and is a ‘hazardous materials specialist’.

“Josh also holds certification as a forensic photographer and administrative trainer for the US Department of Homeland Security’s Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program,” the website reads.

UH officials confirmed Hahn’s employment but declined to comment.

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