Witnesses recall moments leading up to deputy-involved shooting in Nacogdoches County

Suspect shot dead after not following deputy’s orders, according to witnesses
The suspect's body was taken to Tyler for an autopsy, according to officials.
The suspect's body was taken to Tyler for an autopsy, according to officials.(KTRE)
Published: Sep. 10, 2019 at 9:10 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS (KTRE) - A man is dead after being shot by a Nacogdoches County sheriff’s deputy on Saturday afternoon.

Before the shooting, residents in the Etoile community said there were some tense moments near and at the intersection of Highway 103 and Farm-to-Market Road 226, the road to Shirley Creek Marina.

The officer-involved shooting happened in plain view of several nearby residents. Paul Free was directly across the street.

“The officer asked the man to get down on the ground, had his gun pointed at him, said get down on the ground,” Free said. “The guy kept hollering back at the officer. He would not listen to him. After the third time, the guy took a step, like this to the officer and the officer shot him twice.”

Just minutes earlier, a man said he was cut by the strange acting man with a knife. Free says the suspect walked down the middle of HW 103, where he dropped the weapon. He then walked inside Free’s outdoor resale shop.

“Hollerin’ he needed a ride, he needed a ride. We said 'no, you’re not getting a ride.”

Free then describes how the agitated man wouldn't listen to anyone.

"The man was out of control, so we didn't know what was wrong with him or what his problem was, but he needed some help,” said Free.

David Pierce was home, just down FM 226, on the couch when the erratic man barged in wanting a ride.

"He kept saying something about a mile up the road," said Pierce.

Pierce said his first thought was to get the intruder out of the house. They eventually came outside and a confrontation occurred.

“He grabbed me and pushed me toward the van,” said Pierce demonstrating how his throat was grabbed. “He was unarmed,” said Pierce, but it didn’t relieve the tension.

Pierce’s nephew came to his uncle’s rescue and sent the uncontrolled man on his way. When he got back to the intersection, Free saw the man once again trying to hijack vehicles.

“He got in a pickup," said Free. “We got him out of the pickup. He jumped on the man’s boat."

All attempts to calm the man down were unsuccessful. His life ended when facing the deputy. Free watched it happen and said the officer had no choice.

“The officer did his job. He did it like he supposed to. My hat off to him. He’s a good man,” said Free, who said it was a disturbing incident to witness.

DPS and Texas Rangers will conduct an investigation. The suspect’s body was transported to Tyler for an autopsy.

Copyright 2019 KTRE. All rights reserved.