A Harris County sheriff’s deputy, identified as 47-year old Darren H. Goforth, was shot to death after pumping gas into his police cruiser at a Northwest Houston gas station. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
The officer stopped to fill his police car with gas. As he was leaving the store and returning to his vehicle, a suspect approached him from behind and began shooting. The officer, a 10 year veteran of the force, was in full uniform.
After the officer fell to the ground, the suspect, according to an eyewitness, stood over him and continued shooting. The officer was been pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect is described as 5 feet 10 to 6 feet tall, dark complexion, wearing a white t-shirt and red shorts. The shooter got away in a dark red or maroon, extended cab, Ford Ranger pick up truck.
— KPRC 2 Houston (@KPRC2) August 29, 2015
Security cameras from the Chevron where the murder of Deputy Goforth took place captured images of the killer. It appears that the killer of Deputy Goforth, who was white, was a black male. After a witness called 911, deputies rushed to the scene. EMS arrived, but the officer unfortunately passed. Deputy Thomas Gilliland was emotional as he spoke to the media. “I can tell you with diligence and justice the suspect will be caught. And he will be brought to justice,” Gilland said. He told KTRK, the ABC affiliate in Houston, that police believe this may have been a random, vicious attack.
A clearly distraught Gilliland said with a quivering voice, “This is a very tough moment right now for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Keep us in your prayers and in your thoughts.” Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman described the murder of Goforth as an unprovoked, execution-style killing of a police officer. Sheriff Hickman, in addressing the brutality of this cold-blood killing, said, “I’ve been in law enforcement for 45 years. I have never seen anything like this.”
The sheriff made his remarks at a press conference which was held in the parking lot of a church, a location the sheriff said that he sees as quite fitting. “I think it’s fitting that we’re gathered here in the parking lot of a church. At this time it is fitting to ask for prayers for his family, the community and the department family,” Sheriff Hickman said. KPRC’s Jonathan Martinez tweeted a picture of officers praying following the press conference.
Following the press conference, Sheriff Hickman tweeted a statement about his department’s dedication to bringing this killer to justice.
We will not rest until this suspect has been located and justice is served to the family of Deputy Darren Goforth. — Ron Hickman (@SheriffHickman) August 29, 2015
Devon Anderson, the Harris County District Attorney, addressed the media as well and stated that when the suspect is caught, all of the resources of her department would be used to make sure he is brought to justice. Anderson said of the murder of Goforth, “It’s an act of cowardice and brutality the likes of which I’ve never seen.”
A manhunt for the suspect continued through the night. At 2:30 am, police descended upon a home in Northwest Houston in the Crystal Lake subdivision of Copperfield. Police were acting on a tip. A red pick up truck was in the home’s driveway. A person of interest is currently being questioned by police. The mother of the man being questioned claims that her son is innocent. She also claims that he had been home with her all night. No arrests have been made.
This is not the first time a targeted shooting of a police officer has happened in Houston. Back in June, another officer was shot in the back. That officer lived and is expected to make a full recovery. Prior to that in April of 2015, a female Houston Community College officer, who was also in uniform, was stabbed 14 times while in Walmart by a man who said he did so because “cops are oppressive.” The attack was stopped by other shoppers and the officer did recover.
KTRK said that the eyewitness described the scene as incredibly graphic, too graphic for them to even repeat. This is the first fatal shooting of an officer in Houston since 2012.
This story has been updated with additional details at 10:59 pm Pacific.
This story has been updated with more specific information regarding the suspected shooter at 12:08 am Pacific.
This story has been updated with information regarding the manhunt and a person of interest being questioned at 8:11 am Pacific.