Suspect arrested in Texas fatally shot his parents before killing 4 other people, authorities say

A 34-year-old Texas man who was arrested after a string of homicides is believed to have first fatally shot his parents before killing four other people in another county, authorities said Wednesday.

The suspect, identified by police as Shane James, was charged in Travis County with multiple counts of capital murder and is expected to remain in custody pending a trial, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday in a statement. James was booked into the Travis County Jail in Austin early Wednesday morning, according to jail records.

“Based on information obtained over the course of these investigations, we strongly believe that one suspect is responsible for all of these incidents,” Austin Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson said.

Murder charges are also expected in the coming days out of nearby Bexar County, where the suspect is believed to have shot his parents in the hours before carrying out the other killings, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said at a Wednesday news conference. The suspect had mental health problems, had previously been arrested on misdemeanor assault charges and had been discharged from the military after a domestic violence incident, the sheriff said.

Shane James, 34, was identified as the suspect in a series of shootings across Texas. - Austin Police Department
Shane James, 34, was identified as the suspect in a series of shootings across Texas. - Austin Police Department

The suspect allegedly carried out the homicides at four different locations in Austin Tuesday before he was arrested.

In the morning, he allegedly shot and injured an Austin Independent School District officer. At about noon, he allegedly fatally shot a man and a woman miles away in South Austin, investigators said.

At about 5 p.m., he allegedly shot and wounded a man on a bicycle, authorities said. And that evening, the suspect allegedly shot and injured an Austin police officer who was responding to a call about a burglary at a home, authorities said. Two people were found dead at the home, police said.

That final shooting set off a car chase that ended with the suspect in custody at 7:15 p.m., authorities said.

The relationship, if any, between the suspect and the victims isn’t known, authorities said.

Once in custody, the suspect was connected to a home in San Antonio, about 80 miles southwest of Austin, where the bodies of his parents were found. The timing of those deaths was not clear, but police believe that shooting took place in the hours before the Austin violence unfolded.

Suspect was previously arrested, sheriff says

As police in Austin investigated the suspect following his arrest, they connected him to an address in Bexar County and contacted authorities there, Salazar told reporters Wednesday.

Deputies were sent to check out the home Tuesday night and discovered water leaking from the home so they decided to force their way in, Salazar said. The suspect’s parents were discovered in a small room of the home, the sheriff added.

James is believed to have fatally shot his parents sometime between 10 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Tuesday.

There were several gunshots fired from a “large caliber handgun,” the sheriff said, and asked anyone from the public who may have heard or seen anything that night to contact authorities.

In a previous news conference on Tuesday, Salazar had described the two victims as a “very quiet family.”

James was arrested in January 2022 for three misdemeanor charges of assault and the victims are believed to have been his parents and a sibling, Salazar said. Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in the news conference that the assault allegations involved “pushing” and “scratching.”

The suspect’s family told the sheriff’s office a few days later he “has mental health issues” and did not belong in jail, Salazar said.

The conditions of his bond were altered and James was later released from jail on March 7. A day after his release, he cut off his ankle monitor, the sheriff said. “Those three charges then became warrants for his arrest,” he added.

In August 2023, deputies received a call from the house for “a mental health episode.” The suspect was upset and would not let authorities inside his bedroom. Deputies eventually left and asked the suspect’s father to call so they could return and arrest James, but they were never called back, the sheriff said.

“It’s always possible that we could have done more,” Salazar said Wednesday, regarding the summer incident, but said deputies were “making every effort to avoid a violent confrontation.”

The suspect was also in the military but was discharged “due to some sort of a domestic violence incident in the military,” Salazar said. The sheriff said his office found about the military discharge on Wednesday.

“It appears, by all accounts, he suffered with mental illness for some years,” the sheriff said. “From what the family members are telling us, he’s had mental health issues for some years based upon some of the history that we’ve seen.”

How the violence in Austin unfolded

In Austin, the first shooting happened around 10:40 a.m., when an Austin Independent School District officer was shot near Northeast Early College High School. The officer was shot in the leg and was stable, Austin Independent School District Police Chief Wayne Sneed said.

The school went on lockdown as another school resource officer assisted the injured officer, Sneed said. It and nearby International High School are closed Wednesday as the investigation continues, district officials said.

Melissa Bowman reunites with her 18-year-old son Oliver Douglass at the Delco Activity Center after a shooting near Northeast Early College High School on Tuesday. - Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/USA Today Network
Melissa Bowman reunites with her 18-year-old son Oliver Douglass at the Delco Activity Center after a shooting near Northeast Early College High School on Tuesday. - Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/USA Today Network

A little more than an hour later, Austin Police responded “to multiple calls for help” at a location about 12 miles away from the high school, Austin Police Sgt. Destiny Silva said Tuesday afternoon during a news briefing.

“The callers reported hearing gunshots and stated that there was two possible victims,” Silva said.

“Our officers arrived on scene at approximately 12:04 p.m. and located a male and a female victim with obvious signs of trauma to their body.”

One victim died there and the other was pronounced dead at the hospital, Silva said.

The third incident in Austin occurred around 4:57 p.m., “when Austin 911 received a call at 5701 West Slaughter Lane” about a male cyclist who said he had been shot. The man suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Henderson, the police chief, said.

About two hours later, a police officer responding to a burglary call in southwest Austin was shot in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect. The officer had non-life-threatening injuries and the suspect wasn’t injured, Henderson said.

The suspect fled the burglary scene in a vehicle, Henderson said, and officers pursued him. The suspect crashed the vehicle around 7:14 p.m. and was arrested, the chief said. He had a firearm on him, Henderson said.

During the pursuit, additional officers who responded to the home for the burglary call checked inside the house and found two people dead inside, said Henderson.

After his arrest, the suspect was taken to the Travis County Jail, Henderson said.

Charges related to an outstanding assault and family violence warrant for the suspect are also pending, the chief added.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Ashley Killough and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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