Suspect in officer-involved shooting in Killeen ‘was going through an episode,’ witness says
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - A witness who spoke with KWTX on Monday said he never felt threatened by the still-unnamed suspect that led police on a chase that eventually ended in a shooting involving police officers.
Both the witness and Killeen Police Department Chief Charles Kimble said the suspect did display signs of mental illness.
On Sunday afternoon, Killeen resident Patterson Phill drove over to AutoZone on Veterans Memorial Boulevard to pick up some parts.
That’s where KPD said Monday officers responded to a 911 call about the still-unnamed suspect involved in a robbery and acting suspicious while armed. The original release from the department solely said the suspect was seen “outside a white car acting irrationally” in the AutoZone parking lot.
In the parking lot, the suspect approached Phill. “He just seemed like a veteran that was going through an episode,” Phill recalled. “He never threatened ‘I’m going to kill everyone here’ because we would have handled it differently.”
The man asked Phill for a ride in his truck and he started saying things that didn’t add up.
“He said ‘hey man, I’ll give you a house in Harker Heights if you give me a ride to Temple to get my car,’” Phill said. “He was like, ‘I’m serious. I just need to go to Temple the cartel is coming to get me.’”
At a press conference on Sunday, Chief Kimble confirmed he believed the suspect is someone with “mental health issues.”
“On the surface it looks like we’re dealing with someone that has some mental issues,” he said at the time. “He was pointing his gun at himself, some police officers, at the same time, while they were trying to bring him in to surrender.”
Phill could see the bulge of the suspect’s gun, but said at no point did he feel scared or threatened. A customer eventually came out to the parking lot to tell Phill that he left his credit card inside the AutoZone store.
“(The suspect) got out of the truck and I got out of the truck and the cops walked up,” Phill recalled. “As I walked in the store, he said ‘don’t arrest me, don’t arrest me.’ Then the cops drew their guns.”
That’s when the suspect took off running and eventually got in an unlocked police patrol car and started driving off.
Phill went to a nearby friend’s home after the suspect took off running. He said he heard police fire shots from there.
“I felt sad that I wasn’t able to get him in the truck before it all happened because he just seemed like someone that was just having an episode,” he said.
Killeen police on Monday said “officers continued to give the suspect commands to disarm himself and surrender, he started to drive off” in the patrol unit, and “officers discharged their duty weapons, striking him.”
The suspect is in stable condition, police said.
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