Man fatally shot Texas deputies because they were in his yard for dog complaint, witness says

Witness: Suspect told the deputies he would shoot them before he opened fire

This Tuesday, May 11, 2021, booking photo provided by the Tom Green County Sheriff's Office, in San Angelo, Texas, shows Jeffrey Nicholas. Nicholas is charged with shooting two West Texas sheriff's deputies dead and critically wounding a city employee answering a dog complaint, authorities said. (Tom Green County Sheriff's Office via AP) (Uncredited)

EDEN, Texas – A West Texas man accused of fatally shooting two sheriff’s deputies was angry they were in his yard trying to catch a dog and he told them he would open fire if they didn’t leave, a witness said.

“They walked up towards him, rushed him, and he pulled a gun, and shots were fired,” David Hutchings told the San Angelo Standard-Times.

The shooting happened Monday evening in Eden, a city of about 1,300 people roughly 210 miles (340 kilometers) southwest of Dallas. Officials say Concho County deputies Stephen Jones and Samuel Leonard were killed and city employee Ronnie Winans was injured.

DPS said Wednesday that Nicholas opened fire on Jones and Leonard after they “made contact” with him while responding to a dog complaint.

Officials have said little else about what happened before the shooting, which is being investigated by the Texas Rangers. Jeffrey Nicholas, 28, is jailed in nearby Tom Green County Detention Center on two charges of capital murder of a peace officer.

Hutchings, a city employee who helps with animal control, told the newspaper that the officers were helping city employees collect two dogs that had bitten someone earlier in the day.

The deputies had already caught one of the dogs and the other one ran into Nicholas’ yard. Hutchings said Nicholas did not own either animal.

Nicholas told the deputies they couldn't enter his yard to get the dog, then that they should “get off his property” and that he “has his civil rights,” Hutchings said.

He said Nicholas told the deputies that he would shoot them, and then opened fire.

Hutchins said Winans, who is his boss, was shot in the stomach when a bullet went through door of a city pickup. DPS said Wednesday that Winans was in stable condition.

The funeral for Leonard is set for Monday, Jones’ funeral is set for Wednesday.