Jonathan Price was a Texas man who was shot and killed at a gas station by a Wolfe City police officer. Price’s family says the 31-year-old was breaking up a fight between a man and a woman before officers arrived, according to attorney Lee Merritt. Price was a beloved member of the Wolfe City community, where he grew up, and worked as a city employee and as a fitness trainer, his friends and family have said on social media.
The shooting happened Saturday night, October 3, at the Exxon gas station and Kwik Chek convenience store on Santa Fe Street in Wolfe City, WFAA reports.
Wolfe City Police Officer Shaun Lucas was charged with murder on October 5 after an investigation by the Texas Rangers. The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a press release:
Lucas made contact with a man, later identified as 31-year-old Jonathan Price, who was reportedly involved in the disturbance. Officer Lucas attempted to detain Price, who resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away. Officer Lucas deployed his Taser, followed by discharging his service weapon striking Price. EMS was notified and PRice was transported to Hunt Regional Hospital, where he later died.
The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable.
“In Wolfe City, he was known as a hometown hero. Motivational speaker, trainer, professional athlete and community advocate— he was dearly loved by so many,” Merritt said on Facebook about Price. “I have spoken to the family and have agreed to do whatever it takes to get justice for JP.” Merritt said Price had intervened in a domestic violence incident before he was killed.
Wolfe City is located in Hunt County in northeast Texas, and is home to about 1,400 people. The city is located about 15 miles north of Commerce, Texas, and about 70 miles north of Dallas. City officials have only posted a brief statement about the shooting and have not commented publicly or held a press conference to address questions about what happened. Lucas has been placed on administrative leave. The. Texas Rangers said no other information could be released at this time.
Here’s what you need to know about Jonathan Price and what is known about his death so far:
1. Price’s Family Says He ‘Raised His Hands’ & Was Trying to Explain What Was Going On Before He Was Was Hit With a Taser & Was Shot to Death When Police ‘Perceived a Threat,’ According to Their Lawyer
Merritt said on Facebook Price, “noticed a man assaulting a woman and he intervened. When police arrived, I’m told, he raised his hands and attempted to explain what was going on. Police fired tasers at him and when his body convulsed from the electrical current, they ‘perceived a threat’ and shot him to death.”
Police have not released its version of events before and after the shooting and authorities have said those details aren’t available to be made public at this point because the incident remains under investigation. It is not yet known if the shooting and what led up to it were caught on gas station surveillance video, or if the officers involved in the shooting were wearing body cameras or had dashboard cameras in their vehicles.
According to eParisExtra News, the shooting happened about 8:25 p.m. The news site reports Price was shot in the chest and was taken to Hunt Regional Medical Center by ambulance and was pronounced dead there.
Price’s mother, Marcella Louis, told WFAA she was in bed when she received a call about the shooting. Louis told the news station she rushed to the gas station. “And they wouldn’t let me get close to my baby. I just wanted to hold his hand and they wouldn’t let me do that. I just wanted to crawl over there to him,” she told WFAA, adding she wasn’t surprised her son had intervened in a fight. “That’s what he always did, tried to help others. I taught him that all the years.”
Witnesses told WFAA a man and woman were in an argument and Price stepped in. He was assaulted by the man and when police arrived, officers used a Taser on Price, witnesses told the news station.
After Lucas’ arrest, Merritt said on Twitter, “This didn’t happen quickly. It should happened the day he murdered JP. John should still be here. This is step one. Let’s see it through to justice.”
2. Price Graduated From Wolfe City High School Before Studying at Sam Houston State University & Hardin-Simmons University & Then Returned to His Hometown
According to his Facebook page, Price grew up in Wolfe City and graduated from Wolfe City High School. He then studied at Sam Houston State University and Hardin-Simmons University before returning to his hometown.
Price started a personal training business, Repetitive Reps, and worked for Wolfe City in its municipal works department, according to his Facebook profile. On his Facebook page, he listed his name as “Coach Price,” and many in the community said they knew him that way, according to their posts.
Price would have turned 32 on November 3. In June, Price wrote on Facebook about tension around race and police. He said, “There were times i should have been detained for speeding, outstanding citations, out dated registration, dozing off at a red light before making it to my garage downtown Dallas after a lonnng night out i’ve passed a sobriety test after leaving a bar in Wylie, Texas by 2 white cops and still let me drive to where I was headed, and by the way they consider Wylie, Texas to be VERY racist I’ve never got that kind of ENERGY from the po-po.”
He added, “Not saying black lives don’t matter, but don’t forget about your own, or your experiences through growth / ‘waking up.'”
3. Former MLB Player Will Middlebrooks Says Price Was His Childhood Friend & Says Price’s Shooting Death Was ‘Purely an Act of Racism’
Price’s childhood friend, Will Middlebrooks, who played professional baseball with the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers from 2012 to 2017, said he played T-ball with Price and they were close growing up in Wolfe City. Middlebrooks wrote on Facebook that Price’s death was “purely an act of racism.” He said in his post:
See this face? This is the face of one of my childhood friends. The face of my first ever favorite teammate. The face of a good man. But unfortunately it’s the face of a man whose life was taken away from him last night with his hands in the air, while a small town East Texas cop shot him dead. Why? Bc he was trying to break up a fight at a gas station… for some reason he was singled out. I’ll let you do the math. There’s no excuses this time…’he was a criminal’… Nope, not this time. ‘He resisted arrest, just comply with the cops’.. Nope that one doesn’t work this time either. This was purely an act of racism. Period. So, for all of you that think this is all bullshit, you need to check yourselves.
Middlebrooks added, “I’m sick. I’m heartbroken… and I’m furious. Love you, JP. See you when I see you bro.” In a Facebook video, Middlebrooks said he and Price went to elementary school together and he was very close to Middlebrooks’ family and friends. “We know how special of a human being he was and this is a really, really tough loss for all of us on a lot of different levels,” Middlebrooks said.
When asked on Twitter why Middlebrooks was sure the shooting was an “act of racism,” he replied, “My friend tried to break up a fight between a man and a woman at a gas station, bc that’s how we were raised. Don’t put your hands on a woman. Yet he was singled out in the fight, shot and killed… unarmed… no weapon… just his skin color. … I am certain of it… so is everyone else in that predominantly white, country town of 1400 people… including my friends, who are white, that were with him when it happened… now is not the time to come at me with bs like this. Take a step back.”
Middlebrooks’ mother, Julie Procell Middlebrooks, tweeted, “we are shocked, devastated and angry…Jonathan was one of OUR kids. … You were my child, too. All the Wolfe City boys.”
Middlebrooks has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Price’s family. “This money will go towards his memorial and funeral. Just being able to take this burden off of the mourning family’s hands is the least we can do. Thank you. Much love,” Middlebrooks wrote on the page.
4. Tributes to Price From Family Members & Those in the Wolfe City Community Have Poured in Since His Death
Kyle Sanders, a Wolfe City resident who was across the street from the shooting scene, told WFAA about Price, “We all love him and think so highly of him and just the nicest guy you could ever meet. We’re all devastated, shocked, we don’t really know what to do or where to go from here.” He told the news station Price was a “pillar of the community.”
April Louis, Price’s sister, told WFAA, “Everybody loved Jonathan. Everybody. Black, white, Mexican, it don’t matter.” She said her brother was a “miracle baby.”
Dale Trompler, who coached Price on the Wolfe City High School Wolves football team, tweeted, “I have no words. Jonathan Price made an undeniable imprint on my life and will be in my heart forever. We went through so much together and I got the honor of watching him blossom from a child to a man. He stayed in touch long after my time working with you ended and were my biggest supporter in all I have done. I love you man, more than you knew. RIP my brother, 5.”
Trompler added, “To my ‘family’ from WC, I suffer with you. The bond we all have is so special to me. Know that I am here if you need me and I love you all.”
Haley Walker, a Wolfe City resident, wrote a tribute on Facebook:
Last night, my hometown was rocked. Last night an innocent life was taken by the hands of law enforcement. It hits differently when it’s your own. Jonathan was trying to help someone and did not deserve this. He was not a criminal or an outcast. He was a leader, a hometown hero, an exceptional athlete, an inspiration, a hard worker, and an all around great guy, but most importantly a friend. His smile was infectious and he always had a hug waiting for you. Everyone that knew him loved him and respected him. JP we all know the kind soul you were and will seek justice for you. We will listen to George Strait and eat a bowl of lemons together again one day! Sorry your life was taken from you. My heart aches. We must do better. Please pray for my hometown and this sweet man’s family.
Another friend, Christian Reamy, also posted a tribute on Facebook:
My heart is completely broken, all of our hearts are broken. My eyes are swollen from crying, all of our eyes are swollen. My voice is raw from asking God to please let this be a nightmare, all of our throats are raw. Jonathon was the rarest type of human; always spreading love, wanting people to excel and do good, bringing light and inspiration wherever he went, and he didn’t have a hateful bone in his body. His happiness came from helping others be happy; this is true selflessness. His smile would light up a room and anytime you saw it, it was impossible to think of anything that had been upsetting you before. I loved his visits at our house where he always knew he was welcome and never needed to call, just drive on by to see if the vehicles were there.
Many, many years ago I was in Dallas at night with some friends and somehow got separated from them, I can’t remember how. I was scared and I called Jonathon. He said wait right there and I’ll be there in 10 minutes, he was there in less. I remember apologizing over and over and he told me to stop because we’re all family and that’s just what you do for family. He maintained so much innocence even though he had been let down by people he had considered mentors at one point in his life. He went straight on to planning his next venture. He was resilient to his core.
I don’t know how to describe this type of pain other than describing how it is physically affecting me because I don’t think there are any words or combination of words that exist that could describe the impact Jonathon has had in our lives or the gaping hole that has been left from his untimely, unjustified, and tragic death. He meant so much to our community. This shouldn’t happen ever, never in our small town, and never to him. To know him is to love him completely. He knew how much his community loved him, and we will fight for him like he would have fought for us.
Katie Morrison Walden wrote on Facebook, “I get it. Growing up in Wolfe City we didn’t see racism. People were people, there wasn’t color attached. With all that is wrong in the world, it was hard to wrap my head around. Today I get it. Today I hate that I feel privileged that I don’t have to worry about my white husband going to a gas station and getting shot for no reason.”
She added, “It’s unfair. I’m furious and I’m devastated. No one deserves to go out like that, especially someone like Jonathan. This is the one we stand up and fight for. He deserves it.”
Case Roundtree, wrote on Facebook:
None of us should have to make posts like this. NONE OF US.
Jonathan was one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. All through school he was the one guy we all wanted to be just like. In WC we didn’t want to “be like Mike” we wanted to “Be like Jonathan.” He was an incredible football player, leader and class act. After high school, Jonathan and I roomed together for 3 semesters in college and he taught me his well known “never give up work ethic.” Even at that time he had VERY high standards and goals set for himself and I knew he was going to do great things. He was the type of guy that you want your son to grow up like. There are so many stories to reminisce on and they keep playing over and over in my mind. This is just not fair. Jonathan was my brother. He will always be my brother. He did not deserve this. Nobody deserves this.
He was taken by an act of evil. Singled out by an evil that should have never been given any authority. Taken by evil when all he was trying to do was good. He was always doing something good. ALWAYS. Jonathan, I love you man.
Price’s family and friends are planning a candlelight vigil for Price on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in Wolfe City at the scene of the shooting, according to social media posts.
Middlebrooks tweeted, “What’s really sickening is that he was doing the right thing… he saw a man putting his hands on a woman and stepped in to stop the altercation. The man then fought him… then the police shot him. He was unarmed. I’m heartbroken.”
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant tweeted a link to the GoFundMe started by Middlebrooks and wrote, “Wow I’m lost for words… when will it ever stop…”
5. The Texas Rangers Are Leading the Investigation & Lucas Is Being Held in Jail on $1 Million Bail
The Texas Rangers said in a statement Sunday, “At the request of the Wolfe City Police Department, Texas Rangers have been requested to investigate an officer involved shooting.” The statewide police agency is part of the Texas Department of Public Safety and has often been tasked with conducting independent investigations into police shootings.
On Monday night, the DPS said the Rangers had filed charges against Lucas. He was booked into the Hunt County Jail on $1 million bail and faces 5 to 99 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge.
The Wolfe City Police Department only has three officers, including Police Chief Matthew Martin, Sergeant Jarred Hayes and Officer Shaun Lucas, according to the department’s website. Authorities have not publicly identified the officer who shot and killed Price. Martin and Wolfe City Mayor Sharion Scott have not commented about the shooting. The Hunt County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene, but Sheriff Randy Meeks told the Greenville Herald-Banner none of his deputies were not involved in the shooting.
On Facebook, the Wolfe City government page posted a brief statement on October 4 saying, “On October 3, 2020 an Officer involved shooting occurred in Wolfe City. The Officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of this matter by the Texas Rangers. No further information is available for release at this time.”