Man charged with mur­der in am­bush of United States po­lice of­fi­cer in Texas


Texas pros­e­cu­tors on Satur­day charged a 30-year-old man with cap­i­tal mur­der in the killing of a uni­formed sher­iff’s deputy who was gunned down from be­hind while fill­ing his pa­trol car with gas in what of­fi­cials de­scribed as a “sense­less and cow­ardly act.”

The ar­rest of Shan­non J. Miles — who has a crim­i­nal history that in­cludes con­vic­tions for re­sist­ing ar­rest and dis­or­derly con­duct with a firearm — came less than 24 hours af­ter author­i­ties said he am­bushed Dar­ren Go­forth, a 10-year vet­eran of the Harris County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, at a sub­ur­ban Hous­ton Chevron sta­tion.

“I am proud of the men and women that have worked swiftly to ap­pre­hend the re­spon­si­ble per­son who posed a sig­nif­i­cant threat to both law en­force­ment and the com­mu­nity at large,” Harris County Sher­iff Ron Hick­man said at a news con­fer­ence. “Our deputies re­turn to the streets tonight to hold a del­i­cate peace that was shat­tered last evening.”

Court and jail records did not list an at­tor­ney for Miles.

Hick­man said the mo­tive for the killing had not been de­ter­mined but in­ves­ti­ga­tors would look at whether Miles, who is black, was mo­ti­vated by anger over re­cent killings else­where of black men by po­lice that have spawned the “Black Lives Mat­ter” protest move­ment. Go­forth was white.

“I think that’s some­thing that we have to keep an eye on,” Hick­man said. “The gen­eral cli­mate of that kind of rhetoric can be in­flu­en­tial on peo­ple to do things like this. We’re still search­ing to find out if that’s ac­tu­ally a mo­tive.”

Hick­man said in­ves­ti­ga­tors are work­ing on the as­sump­tion “that he was a tar­get be­cause he wore a uni­form.”

Go­forth, 47, was pump­ing gas Fri­day night when the gun­man ap- proached him from be­hind and fired mul­ti­ple shots, con­tin­u­ing to fire af­ter the deputy had fallen to the ground.

The deputy had gone to the Chevron gas sta­tion in Cy­press, a mid­dle­class to up­per mid­dle-class sub­ur­ban area of Harris County that is un­in­cor­po­rated and lo­cated north­west of Hous­ton, af­ter re­spond­ing to a rou­tine car ac­ci­dent ear­lier Fri­day.

Ear­lier on Satur­day, Hick­man had called the killing a “cold-blooded as­sas­si­na­tion.”

“Cops’ lives mat­ter, too,”

“Cops’ lives mat­ter, too,” Hick­man said then. “So why don’t we drop the qual­i­fier and say lives mat­ter.”

Harris County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Devon An­der­son echoed Hick­man’s sen­ti­ments. “There are a few bad ap­ples in ev­ery pro­fes­sion. That does not mean there should be open war­fare de­clared on law en­force­ment,” she said.

Deray McKes­son, a leader of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, re­sponded to Hick­man’s crit­i­cisms, telling the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle: “It is un­for­tu­nate that Sher­iff Hick­man has cho­sen to politi­cize this tragedy and to at­tribute the of­fi­cer’s death to a move­ment that seeks to end vi­o­lence.”

In a state­ment Satur­day, Gover­nor Greg Ab­bott said “heinous and de­lib­er­ate crimes against law en­force­ment will not be tol­er­ated” and that the state “reveres the men and women in law en­force­ment who put their lives on the line ev­ery day to pro­tect and serve their com­mu­ni­ties.”

Hick­man said Miles had been in the cus­tody of author­i­ties “all night.” Author­i­ties ear­lier Satur­day said they had been speak­ing with a per­son of in­ter­est but had not iden­ti­fied that in­di­vid­ual.

Court records of Miles’ pre­vi­ous ar­rests show he lived at a home that deputies searched ear­lier Satur­day and where a red truck, sim­i­lar to one that author­i­ties said left the scene of the shoot­ing, was found. Hick­man cred­ited the work of in­ves­ti­ga­tors and “rou­tine re­search” that found the truck that led to “the sus­pect re­spon­si­ble for this sense­less and cow­ardly act.”

An im­promptu me­mo­rial sprouted at the pump Go­forth had used Fri­day night, with a pile of bal­loons, flow­ers, can­dles and notes, in­clud­ing one that said, “Gone but never for­got­ten R.I.P. Deputy Go­forth.” The gas sta­tion was open Satur­day, but that pump was closed. Peo­ple gath­ered later on Satur­day for a vigil at the gas sta­tion to re­mem­ber Go­forth. Brian Mc­Cullar knew Go­forth be­cause the deputy had pa­trolled his neigh­bor­hood, which is about two miles from the gas sta­tion, and the two spoke of­ten.

“He was pas­sion­ate about what he did,” the 49-year-old said, adding, “We’re still in shock. ... It’s a huge loss for his fam­ily. It’s a huge loss for this area.” Go­forth had a wife and two chil­dren. “You’re talk­ing about a guy that made a dif­fer­ence,” Mc­Cullar said.

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