Shane James won’t talk or give motive for rampage that left 6 dead, 3 injured in Austin, San Antonio

Gun was purchased legally from private seller in 2022

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio man accused of a violent rampage in Austin and Bexar County that left six people dead, including his parents, is not giving investigators any clues about a motive.

That was among the new information about the Shane James Jr. case shared by the Austin Police Department during a press conference on Tuesday.

“He chose not to speak,” said Austin PD Sgt. Nathan Sexton. Search warrants show James Jr. also refused to provide a DNA sample.

During the press conference, police also revealed that James Jr. used the same weapon in all of the shootings — a 1911 .45-caliber pistol that he purchased legally in July 2022 from a private seller. The seller told investigators that James Jr. showed the appropriate identification during the purchase.

Listen to the Austin Police Department’s press conference in the video player below:

James Jr., 34, was arrested late on Dec. 5 in Austin after a string of attacks.

Police in Austin said the victims were found dead in pairs in different homes during the daylong attacks.

They provided a more detailed timeline of the violence.

  • 10:41 a.m. — James Jr. is accused of shooting an Austin ISD officer in the parking lot of Northeast Early College High School in northeast Austin, off Highway 290. The officer was identified as Val Barnes, a 28-year veteran. Barnes was in his patrol vehicle and startled James Jr. in the parking lot. James Jr. fired at Barnes and then got in a car, a dark gray Nissan Versa, and drove away, investigators said. Barnes, who was shot once in each leg, drove himself to get help.
  • 11:59 a.m. — Police received a call for a drive-by shooting on Shadywood Drive. Based on eyewitness accounts and surveillance video from homes in the area, James Jr. is accused of walking up to Emmanuel Pop Ba, 32, and shooting him. His friend, Sabrina Rahman, 24, ran with her baby in a stroller to the door of a home. A video shows a man, believed to be James Jr., getting out of a dark SUV, running to the door where Rahman was, then getting back into the SUV and leaving. Pop Ba died at the scene, and Rahman was transported to a local hospital, where she later died.
  • 5:47 p.m. — A man was shot while riding his bicycle in the 5700 block of Slaughter Lane.
  • 6:49 p.m. — Officers responded to a burglary in progress on Austral Loop. A man called 911 to report that he received a notification on his alarm system and saw video of a man kicking in the door of the home. He said his wife and daughter were inside the home. Officers arrived within two minutes and saw a man inside the home. The man ran to the backyard where he fired at an officer, hitting him multiple times. The man drove off in a stolen Acura.
  • 7 p.m. — Police pursued him, James Jr. lost control and crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into another motorist. That motorist suffered minor injuries. Shane James Jr. was identified after he exited the Acura, raised his hands and was arrested without further incident. Officers found the bodies of Katherine Short, 56 and Lauren Short, 30, inside the home on Austral Loop.
  • 7:45 p.m. — The Bexar County Sheriff’s office was notified about James Jr.’s alleged crime spree and went to his residence on Port Royal in the Mission Hill community near Kirby to perform a welfare check. Deputies forced entry into the home and found the bodies of a man and a woman identified as James Jr.’s parents, 55-year-old Phyllis James Jr. and 56-year-old Shane James Sr.

Investigators say they do not know what James Jr. was doing in the nearly six hours that is unaccounted for in the day’s timeline.

Austin Police Department Interim Chief Robin Henderson defended the lack of any public alerts on Dec. 6, saying there was no indication that any of the shootings were related, until right before the suspect was taken into custody. Police were working on a press release which they transitioned to a recap of events, following James Jr.’s arrest, Henderson said.

The charges filed against James Jr. in Austin include four counts of capital murder and two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant.

APD said the only previous encounter they had with James Jr. was in 2018 when he drove from San Antonio to the Mosaic Church on Research Boulevard. Church members called the police because James Jr. was experiencing “suicidal ideations.” He was taken into emergency custody at the time.

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.

James Jr. was discharged from the U.S. Army in 2015 for “unacceptable conduct” which KSAT learned was a a domestic violence issue.

James Jr. is being held in the Travis County Jail without bond.

On Dec. 6, 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 Jr. would neither have been able to escape the floor he was on, nor the building itself,” Dark added.

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About the Authors

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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