Police investigate motive in ambush of Houston area deputy

Shannon J. Miles, 30, is walked out of the Harris County Sheriff's Department in Houston on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Prosecutors on Saturday charged Miles with capital murder in the killing of a uniformed sheriff's deputy who was gunned down from behind while filling his patrol car with gas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — The man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a uniformed suburban Houston sheriff’s deputy will be arraigned this week, jail records show.

Shannon J. Miles, who has a criminal history that includes convictions for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a firearm, is due in court Monday. Court and jail records did not list an attorney for the 30-year-old Houston resident, and attempts to reach his family members on Sunday were unsuccessful.

Mourners gather at a gas station in Houston on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth who was shot and killed while filling his patrol car. On Saturday, prosecutors charged Shannon J. Miles with capital murder in the Friday shooting. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT: JAMES NIELSEN/HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Mourners gather at a gas station in Houston on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth who was shot and killed while filling his patrol car. On Saturday, prosecutors charged Shannon J. Miles with capital murder in the Friday shooting. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT: JAMES NIELSEN/HOUSTON CHRONICLE

His arrest Saturday came less than 24 hours after authorities said he ambushed Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, at a suburban Houston Chevron station.

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said the attack was “clearly unprovoked,” and there is no evidence so far that Goforth knew Miles. Investigators have no information from Miles that would shed light on his motive, Hickman said.

“Our assumption is that he was a target because he wore a uniform,” the sheriff said.

Miles’ criminal record begins in 2005, when he was convicted of criminal mischief, giving false information to police and resisting arrest, according to records. In 2006, he was convicted of disorderly conduct with a firearm and sentenced to a maximum of 15 days in jail. He was convicted of evading arrest in 2007, and his most recent conviction came in 2009 for again resisting arrest. Records show that he was sentenced to several short stints in jail, anywhere from 10 to 6 days.

Goforth, 47, was pumping gas at a Chevron station Friday night in Cypress, a middle-class to upper middle-class suburban area of Harris County that is unincorporated and located northwest of Houston, when the gunman approached him from behind and fired multiple shots, continuing to fire after the deputy had fallen to the ground.

The killing evoked strong emotions in the local law enforcement community, with Sheriff Ron Hickman linking it to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police. Goforth was white and Miles is black.

The nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement that formed after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri has sought sweeping reforms of policing. Related protests erupted in Texas recently after a 28-year-old Chicago-area black woman, Sandra Bland, was found dead in a county jail about 50 miles northwest of Houston three days after her arrest on a traffic violation. Texas authorities said she committed suicide but her family is skeptical of that.

Hickman and Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson pushed back against the criticism of police on Saturday.

“We’ve heard Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too,” Hickman said.

Deray McKesson, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, told the Houston Chronicle: “It is unfortunate that Sheriff Hickman has chosen to politicize this tragedy and to attribute the officer’s death to a movement that seeks to end violence.”

A vigil was held Saturday night at the gas station, where members of the community were joined by law enforcement officers. Goforth’s wife, Kathleen Goforth, released a statement Saturday to Houston television station KPRC-TV that said her husband was “ethical; the right thing to do is what guided his internal compass.”

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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