A gunman walked into an auto detailing shop in Houston Sunday morning and began shooting, killing another customer and putting the neighborhood on lockdown before being fatally shot by a SWAT officer, police said.
Six others were injured, including two deputy constables who had been released from a local hospital as of late Sunday. Three men and one women were also hospitalized with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. Police said they were investigating whether one of the injured men played any role in the shooting. The unidentified man was initially described as a suspect because he was present at the scene and armed.
Police said they got their first call about the shooting at 10:15 a.m. local time. The deceased victim, described as a man in his 50s, had just driven in to the auto shop. Within a minute or two, authorities said, the gunman came in and started shooting. Others in the shop ran out to take cover nearby and call for help.
Neighbors described hearing many gunshots, and some of the victims taken to the hospital were shot while driving their vehicles. Police say they believe a fire at a gas station next door began when gunfire hit a pump. At least three police vehicles were damaged by gunfire, one of them struck 21 times, and a police helicopter was shot at with a “high-powered” weapon and was hit five times, authorities said.
Neither the gunman nor the victims have been publicly identified, and police said they had no information on a possible motive.
The gunman was killed by the SWAT officer about an hour after the shootings began, said Police spokesman John Cannon.
“If he hadn’t taken that action that quickly, this likely would have been a lot worse than it was,” Cannon said.
The county medical examiner may identify the gunman on Monday, Cannon said.
Houston Police Union President Ray Hunt says an officer who was hit several times in the chest was wearing both a metal breastplate and a bulletproof vest. The second officer was shot in the hand.
Stephen Dittoe, 55, lives in the house right behind the shooting scene, separated by a fence and tall shrubbery at the end of cul-de-sac.
“I heard the first shot and I thought it was a transformer” exploding, he said. His wife, Ha, 41, said it went on too long for that and described the series of staccato sounds.
She took their two children, ages 6 and 7, into the bathroom, told them to eat breakfast in there, and called 911.
About two hours later, Ha Dittoe said police arrived at their house and asked if anyone was being held captive, and if they could walk around the backyard.
The streets were still blocked off late Sunday afternoon with many police cars and fire trucks on the scene. A police SUV was seen with a shattered windshield and the back window broken out, and police said two patrol cars were riddled with bullets.