MARION CO., TX (KSLA) - A warrant has been issued for the nephew of an East Texas man who was fatally shot Wednesday in what police say was an ongoing dispute over land ownership.
Jack Smith, 68, was shot multiple times late Wednesday morning while working on his family's property in the 1700 block of U.S. Highway 59, also known as North Walcott Street.
His stepdaughter Diane Walker said Wednesday that it was Smith's nephew, 50-year-old Joe Earl Smith, that pulled the trigger.
Now, the Marion County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that a warrant has been issued for Joe Earl Smith in connection with the slaying - and they have a general idea of which direction he might be heading.
According to a statement released early Thursday afternoon by Sheriff David McKnight, witnesses say the dispute originated over land ownership and possible heirship of the land where the shooting happened.
McKnight also said the sheriff's office had been called to the family's property numerous times in the past for disturbances.
Family members say the two were known to have disagreements and that they were arguing over cutting back brush in a wooded area behind their homes Wednesday when the nephew left and came back with a gun, shooting "Jackie" Smith twice.
Witnesses also told police that Joe Smith might have left the scene of the shooting in a white 1993 Ford Explorer with a maroon stripe on the lower portion of the body.
Late Wednesday night, police got a tip that Smith may have headed out of town.
"We have been in contact with agencies in several states east of here, and have reason to believe that Smith is traveling in that direction," said McKnight.
The search for the gunman Wednesday prompted lockdowns at nearby schools, a nursing facility and several homes.
In addition to the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers, Jefferson police, Texas DPS, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Marion County constables Precinct 1 and 2, and the US Marshal's Service are assisting in the investigation and search for the suspect.