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Sun March 7, 2010
One dead in officer-involved shooting
COMMERCE – Commerce Police Department received a 911 transfer call Sunday at 12:28 p.m. from Greenville Police notifying them that a red Ford Mustang was firing shots at the Wesley Street Bridge in Greenville. Three shots were reported fired at that location, according to Commerce Public Information Officer Marty Cunningham.
Commerce Police intercepted the car at 12:33 p.m. on State Highway 24/50 just outside the city limits of Commerce. The suspect pointed a gun at Commerce officers and shots were exchanged between the two.
The suspect continued onto the Commerce Wal-Mart at speeds of around 70 mph where he then stopped and entered the front entrance of the store carrying a long-barreled gun and pistol; visually wounded. At that time, an off-duty Delta County Sheriff's Deputy identified as Paul Robertson saw the suspect as he exited the front of the store.
At approximately 12:36 p.m., the officer tried to detain the suspect when gun shots between Robertson, Commerce Police Officers and the suspect began. The suspect was shot and killed, while Robertson was wounded and flown to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler. The extent of his injuries were not known at last report.
Two individuals that were inside the Wal-Mart when shots were fired have been transported to local hospitals for chest pains but were not the victims of gunshots.
It was unclear how many shots were fired between the gunman and law enforcement.
According to Cunningham, there are two crime scenes under investigation; the one at the Commerce Wal-Mart and the location along HW 24/50 where the individual began firing on officers.
Robertson was reportedly just shopping at Wal-Mart at the time of the incident.
"If he had not been there and tried to detain the suspect when he did this could have been a lot worse," said Cunningham. "We could have had a lot of people hurt."
Cunningham continued, "It's quite devastating to find out when something like this has occurred in your community but I assure you that our officers are doing everything they can to make sure something like this doesn't happen again."
The deceased subject's name had not been released as of late Sunday.
By 1:00 p.m. the scene had been secured by officers from the Commerce and Greenville Police Departments, Hunt County Sheriff's Officer and Texas Department of Public Safety.
A motive for the shooting is sought. The case is under investigation and details are expected to be released as they become available.
Wal-Mart Employee Shane Bennett tells KETR the suspect came in and started shooting inside the corridor of the building.
"There were two cops that came in on the garden center side and they barricaded them in that little corridor and gunshots, there was more gunshots on top of that and the suspect was taken down."
Bennett believes the suspect was looking to take hostages. Although that information was not confirmed by Cunningham.
"As associates we're taught to get everybody out, so that's what we did," said Bennett.
"When he [the gunman] got here he realized he wasn't going to be able to go any further," said Bennett. "That's why he came into the Wal-Mart here because it's a smaller Wal-Mart and he thought he could get hostages. But once we heard the first gunfire, we reacted quickly and got everybody to the back and then out the store. That's what we're taught to do."
Above, hear the complete news conference conducted by City of Commerce Public Information Officer Marty Cunningham on Sunday.