What we know about a series of attacks that left 2 dead in NE Bexar County, 4 others dead in Austin

Shane James was arrested in Austin after a pursuit, charged with capital murder

SAN ANTONIO – A 34-year-old San Antonio man was arrested late Tuesday in Austin after a string of attacks that left six people dead — including his parents in Bexar County — and at least three others injured.

Police in Austin said the victims were found dead in pairs in different homes during the daylong attacks. Police have identified the suspect as Shane James Jr.

Travis County Jail records show James Jr. was booked after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and charged with capital murder in addition to several out-of-county misdemeanors.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said James Jr. had three warrants in Bexar County for misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury-family. He was bonded out by the Texas Organizing Project in early 2022.

Warrants for James Jr.’s re-arrest were issued almost two years ago — but he apparently remained free.

Austin police said they believe James Jr. is the sole suspect responsible for all of the deaths there. The relationships between the suspect and victims have not been released, nor the motive.

Salazar confirmed James Jr. is accused of killing his parents here.

As of Friday morning, this is what we know so far:

Suspect’s parents found dead in NE Bexar County home

Salazar said at around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, his agency learned about the suspect’s connection with a home on Port Royal in the Mission Hill community near Kirby.

Deputies responded to the home and found water leaking from the house, Salazar said.

Deputies then forced entry into the home and found the bodies of a man and a woman.

Neighbors did not report a shooting at the house. Salazar said he also didn’t know what caused the water leak.

Salazar said Wednesday afternoon during a press conference that the victims were James Jr.’s parents, identified as 55-year-old Phyllis James and 56-year-old Shane James Sr.

Victims - Phyllis James, 55, and Shane M James Sr., 56 (BCSO)

The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office said they each died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Salazar added they believe the parents were killed between Monday night and Tuesday morning — before the incidents in Austin started.

The sheriff said the victims were well-known in the community.

“I’m not quite sure what’s at the root of it, but ... nobody deserves to die the way we believed that they died,” Salazar said.

Shane James Jr. was charged in Jan. 2022 domestic violence case

James Jr. had three pending cases in Bexar County for misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury-family. Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said Wednesday afternoon that the assaults were related to pushing and scratching.

Salazar said the victims in the assault cases stemming from Jan. 6, 2022, were James Jr.’s parents and a sibling. He was arrested and booked, the sheriff said.

The conditions of his bond were altered later on Jan. 27, 2022, when they were changed to “no threatening contact” with victims instead of no contact with the victims, according to BCSO. The changes resulted in his bond being lowered from $500 to $100.

Bexar County booking records obtained by KSAT show James Jr. was bonded out by Laquita Garcia, who is the statewide policy coordinator for the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), an area group that advocates for bail reform.

The group has been criticized for bailing out defendants who cannot afford bond.

On Friday afternoon, TOP released a full statement titled “clarifying the facts.”

A portion of the statement sent by co-Executive Director Michelle Tremillo to news organizations states (click here to read the full statement):

Recent discussions have scrutinized TOP Education Fund’s bail work, particularly our involvement with James. Here are the facts: Initially, James’s bail was set at $1,500 for a misdemeanor, later reduced to $300 by the judge – a decision reflecting a non-high-risk assessment. TOP Education Fund in partnership with Bexar County’s public defender’s office, facilitated James’s bail for his first-time misdemeanor charges in February 2022. Our involvement concluded in March 2022. It’s also important to note that even if James had been convicted to the maximum extent for his charges, the legal system would likely have released him within a year, and more likely in six months or less. TOP has worked with Bexar County officials to advocate for policies that balance the rights of the accused, safety of the community, and cost to taxpayers for pretrial incarceration. The pretrial assessment, the judge’s decision, and the actions of the district attorney’s office and the public defender’s office in this case were consistent with current best practices for low-level misdemeanors in the state of Texas.

It’s vital to cut through the misinformation and lies. The core issues extend beyond this incident and our bail program. There is an urgent need for comprehensive mental health care services and substantial gun reform in Texas. We remain steadfast in our goal of transforming the justice system and our bail program is one piece of that work. Root causes including poverty, addiction, and mental health must be addressed to ensure lasting public safety.

James Jr. was released from jail on March 7, 2022. Salazar said he cut off his ankle monitor the next day, and arrest warrants were reissued on March 9, 2022.

Salazar said it wasn’t a crime to cut off the monitor at the time, but that changed as of this September, when it became a felony after a new state law was enacted.

Deputies were called to the James home in August for a mental health episode. His father met with deputies when they arrived.

Deputies told James Sr. that his son still had three outstanding warrants after James Jr. ran up to a room and locked himself in, Salazar said.

Due to the misdemeanor charges in the warrant, deputies were unable to force their way into the room. But James Sr. was able to force open the door slightly. They saw a bed was in the way, and James Jr. was naked on it.

James Jr. went behind the door, and the deputies attempted to de-escalate the situation to get him to come out, BCSO said.

“He is being insulting to them but not threatening,” Salazar said.

Deputies were unable to talk him out of the room and told James Sr. they would be leaving and come back when his son was out of the room. They instructed the father to call them once he was out.

James Sr. never called BCSO back to take his son into custody, according to Salazar.

When questioned about why the suspect was allowed to be released, DA Gonzales said, “My office, nor I, have anything to do with their activities.”

Gonzales said, “The bonds at that moment were appropriate,” because it was a low-risk case, according to the facts in the case.

The DA said his office would be working with the Travis County DA on this case, and Bexar County was already taking steps to make sure James Jr. doesn’t come out of jail.

When asked why James Jr. wasn’t rehabilitated for his mental health issues, Gonzales said, “We hope that people can be rehabilitated, but you have to get to court.”

Salazar added that James Jr. was discharged from the military for a domestic violence issue and that he had not been taking medication for his mental health issues lately.

James Jr. was an infantry officer (11A) in the Army from February 2013 to August 2015, according to a spokesperson with the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.

He was never deployed. His last rank held was first lieutenant.

Suspect ambushed Austin ISD police officer

An Austin ISD police officer was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries after an altercation in the parking lot of Northeast Early College High School at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, APD Interim Chief of Police Robin Henderson said in a news release late Tuesday.

Just after 11 a.m., Austin ISD posted on Twitter that the school was “in lockdown due to shots heard in the area. Police are responding. Please do not come to campus.”

Around 11:45 a.m., the school district posted an update that the campus was “safe” but still in lockdown. They wrote that an Austin ISD police officer “sustained injuries during an altercation in the parking lot.”

The Austin American-Statesman reported that the officer told investigators that he was ambushed by an assailant, according to scanner traffic.

No students or staff were reported to be injured.

The school is in northeast Austin, off Highway 290 — just east of Interstate 35 and south of Highway 183.

Northeast Early College High School parking lot via Google Maps (Google Maps)

Two killed in Austin home, cyclist shot

Austin police said at about noon, a man and a woman were fatally wounded in a home in the 7300 block of Shadywood Drive.

“Austin 911 communications received multiple calls for help,” Henderson said.

Austin police identified the two victims as Emmanuel Pop Ba, 32, and Sabrina Rahman, 24. Pop Ba died at the scene, and Rahman was transported to a local hospital, where she later died.

Rahman’s uncle told the Austin American-Statesman that his niece had just moved into her new home with her husband and 1-year-old child the day before. Pop Ba was a handyman who was helping the family move into their home.

Just before 5 p.m., Austin police received a call about a male bicyclist, 39, shot in the 5700 block of West Slaughter Lane, less than seven miles away from the home on Shadywood Lane.

The cyclist sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Affidavit details fatal shootings on Austral Loop

Just before 7 p.m., Austin police responded to a call of a burglary in progress at a home in the 5300 block of Austral Loop, less than two miles away from the shooting on Slaughter Lane.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a person called the police and said his surveillance system showed someone breaking into his house, occupied by his wife and daughter.

Police made entry and found two women with apparent gunshot wounds. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

They have been identified as Catherine Short, 56, and Lauren Short, 30.

The affidavit adds that the suspect was seen on camera holding a handgun and forcibly kicking the back door down.

Suspect shot officer during pursuit, later crashed

As Austin police responded to the last call at the home on Austral Loop, a detective saw the suspect run to the backyard, the affidavit states.

The man “immediately opened fire” at the officer, striking the officer multiple times, Henderson said. The officer was taken to the hospital and listed in stable condition.

The officer returned fire before the suspect ran into the family’s garage and drove off in their 2015 Acura, according to the affidavit.

The suspect, who was not hit, was pursued by police in a chase that reached speeds of 90 miles per hour.

He ended up crashing the Acura at around 7:15 p.m. at the intersection of South Highway 45 and FM 1826. He was taken into custody.

He had a pistol in his waistband as well as two handgun magazines in his pocket, the affidavit states.

Henderson said they didn’t believe the attacks were connected until the last incident occurred and after the suspect was taken into custody.

Suspect charged with capital murder

The suspect was taken to the Travis County Jail and charged with capital murder of multiple persons and capital murder by terror threat/other felon in addition to three out-of-county misdemeanors. He is being held without bond.

On Wednesday, he pushed past a corrections officer who was opening the door to a housing unit and ran into the hallway, Kristen Dark, a spokesperson with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office told KSAT.

“Corrections Officers detained him and he resisted,” Dark said. “He was ultimately restrained.”

“The Travis County Jail is a multi-floor, secure facility and James would neither have been able to escape the floor he was on, nor the building itself,” Dark added.

Search warrants show James Jr. refused to provide a DNA sample.

Abbott, Biden release statements on shootings

As the story developed, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement:

“Texans grieve for the loved ones of the six Texans who were murdered by a hardened criminal who must never see the light of day again. The murderer also shot two law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Texas is a law-and-order state, and violence will never be tolerated. We thank all state and local law enforcement and first responders who apprehended this criminal and protected their communities. The State of Texas will provide all resources necessary to impose the full weight of law on this criminal for his despicable crimes. Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in lifting up in prayer the families and loved ones of those who were killed, as well as the Texans who are recovering from injuries, including an Austin Police Officer and an Austin Independent School District police officer.”

President Joe Biden issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, in Austin and San Antonio, at least six people were killed and several more injured by a gunman—leaving families devastated, and communities forever changed. And just hours ago, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas became the latest college campus to be terrorized by a horrific act of gun violence, and the community is still awaiting information on casualties.

“Jill and I join citizens across our nation in praying for the families of our fallen, and for those who were injured during these latest acts of senseless violence. We are also grateful for the courageous work of law enforcement—who risked their own safety to bring an end to these deadly shooting sprees. Federal law enforcement officials are on the ground working with State and local law enforcement in both states and I have directed that all necessary support be provided to assist in the investigations and support these communities.

“This year alone, our nation has experienced more than 600 mass shootings, and approximately 40,000 deaths due to gun violence. This is not normal, and we can never let it become normal.

“For all the action we have taken since I’ve been President, the epidemic of gun violence we face demands that we do even more. But we cannot do more without Congress. Republican lawmakers must join with Democrats in Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pass a national red flag law, enact universal background checks, require the safe storage of guns, and advance other commonsense measures that will help stem the tide of gun violence. And together, we must do more to prevent more families, and more communities like Austin, San Antonio, and Las Vegas, from being ripped apart by gun violence.”

Tips sought by BCSO

Salazar is asking anyone in the public who may have video of the vehicle James Jr. was in — a dark gray Nissan Versa — to contact BCSO at 210-335-6000.

BCSO asking public for any doorbell video of the suspect vehicle (BCSO)

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About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.