WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A high-speed chase led Williamson County deputies into Bell County Thursday, where the suspect was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Williamson County Sherif Robert Chody said the incident started as a response to a suicidal person, after his department received a call from Fort Hood asking for a welfare check on a man.
“They were concerned about the safety of this person, so my deputies in the Williamson County side started looking for this person and car,” Chody said.
Deputies found the man’s vehicle parked west of the town of Florence. From a distance, deputies were looking for signs of the man — concerned that he was lying down or had harmed himself, they brought in a drone.
“Since I took office, we purchased drones and this is something we use those, for those very reasons,” Chody said.
The deputies were about to deploy a drone when the suspect took off in his vehicle.
Heading north on State Highway 195 toward Killeen, with speeds reaching over 110 mph, the pursuit ended in Bell County near the Williamson County line. A Department of Public Safety trooper joined the pursuit and chased after the suspect when he got out of his vehicle and ran onto private property near Mountain Creek Road around 1:25 p.m.
Chody said the armed suspect fired at least one shot, and at least one Williamson County deputy returned fire. Chody said it’s not clear if one of his deputies or another agency fired the shot that brought the suspect down.
Officers immediately began CPR and continued until EMS arrived and took over. Chody says the suspect, whose age and name have not been released, died at the scene around 1:50 p.m.
The law enforcement at the scene were not injured. The Williamson County deputy who fired his weapon will be placed on desk duty, which is the department’s protocol for an officer-involved shooting.
Chody says the deputy involved, who was visibly upset when the sheriff arrived at the scene, is a veteran officer who has not had any issues with the department.
“We did not want the result that we have here,” Chody said in a roadside press conference. “From what I see here, that was not the choice of my deputies, that was the choice of this person…”
The sheriff said the suspect was involved in a civil disturbance Wednesday night with his significant other, but did not have additional details.
As for the drone on the verge of being used before the chase started, the sheriff said they were purchased with drug raid money and provide a bird’s eye view of what’s happening.
“We purchased those in month three in office because we could have used them in another event and we saw the importance of it, and again this demonstrates why we should have more of them,” Chody explained.
The last time a WCSO deputy had been involved in a shooting was in November of 2012.