Samuel Leonard was a 26-year-old father who was one of the two Concho County Sheriff’s deputies killed when responding to a dog complaint in Eden, Texas. The second deputy was identified as Stephen Jones, and an Eden city employee was also critically wounded. The murder suspect, Jeffrey Nicholas, 28, has been arrested and charged with capital murder.
The deputies and city employee were dispatched at about 8:40 p.m. Monday, May 10. Officials said in a statement that the situation quickly turned violent.
“An altercation occurred which quickly escalated to gunfire,” the statement said.
The Concho County Sheriff’s Office is collecting donations for the families of both deputies, they wrote in a Facebook post. Neighbors told San Angelo Live deputies first encountered Nicholas in his vehicle. They said he fled, barricaded himself in his home and opened fire.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Leonard Was a Protector of the Innocent, His Brother Wrote in a Touching Tribute
Zach Leonard wasn’t surprised when his brother took a career in law enforcement, he wrote in a touching tribute. He wrote that from the time Samuel Leonard was a young boy, he was a protector of the innocent. Of his brother’s career in law enforcement, he wrote, “It was what he was born to do.”
Zach said his brother was his best friend, and he often called him to share what was on his mind.
The post said:
I’m at a loss right now and my heart isn’t just broken, it’s shattered, but I feel like I need to say a few words about my brother and best friend, Samuel Leonard.
Sam was the type of person who looked out for the innocent from the time he was a little kid, once getting into a fist fight on the playground with older, bigger kids because they were picking on his twin brother. I wasn’t surprised when he told me he was going into law enforcement, it was what he was born to do.
He was a wonderful brother and friend and although this is senseless and I’m struggling with the fact that I won’t be able to just call him up and laugh about something random like we always did, I don’t mourn like someone who has no hope. I don’t hope his soul is at rest, I know. Because of our faith in Jesus I know that eternity will be spent with him and that provides for moments of peace.
Rest easy program. I love you dearly and will see you soon.
Leonard married his wife, Morgan, in 2017, and they had one daughter, Magnolia. His funeral will be held at First Baptist Church Monday, May 17, 2021, which is the church he attended growing up, according to his obituary.
Leonard had a twin brother, a second brother and a sister, his obituary said.
“He enjoyed photography, grilling and was a firearm enthusiast. He was known for making everyone laugh and loved playing with his daughter,” his obituary said. “He grew up attending First Baptist Church of Lamesa. He was an Eagle Scout of the Boys Scouts of America and a member of the Milam Masonic Lodge #11.”
The Concho County Sheriff’s office is collecting donations for both families.
“If anyone is wanting to send anything to the families of Stephen Jones or Samuel Leonard, please send items to PO Box 67 in Paint Rock or bring by the Sheriff Office in Eden and we will make sure the families receive them. Accounts are being set up at both Eden State Bank and Paint Rock Bank to benefit both families. Thank you!” the office wrote in a Facebook post.
A friend of Leonard, Kimber Collins, told San Angelo Live he was a caring friend whose life was dedicated to serving others. She said he was active in youth group at church and recalled days he brought her coffee to make her day brighter.
2. Neighbors Recounted Hearing a Series of Gunshots & Locals Changed Their Profile Pictures to Honor the Fallen Deputies
It was Eden City Mayor Pete Torres who convinced Nicholas to surrender after about 30 minutes barricaded in his home, according to San Angelo Live. The mayor lives around the corner from the crime scene, the news station reported, and several neighbors described the deadly scene.
One witness told the news outlet officers attempted to pull Nicholas over in his vehicle. He lived nearby, and fled to his home, they said. A neighbor told the news station they heard law enforcement giving orders to Nicholas.
“Roll your window down and then put up your hands,” the witness recalled hearing police say.
The witness then reported hearing nine or 10 gunshots with “people shooting back and forth…”
Another witness reported hearing the suspect yelling about the dogs and Constitutional rights.
“Those aren’t my dogs. You are always harassing me and tasing me..,” Nicholas said, according to San Angelo Live.
Neighbors told the news outlet there are six dogs in the neighborhood “that are vicious that control the neighborhood.”
Nicholas was arrested by Texas Rangers and booked into the Tom Green County Jail at 5:38 a.m. Tuesday, May 11, 2021, according to the county’s jail roster. He faces two counts of capital murder of a peace officer. His bail is set at $2 million for each count of capital murder.
Here is his booking information:
Jones badge number was 2402, according to the Concho County Sheriff’s Office. A funeral is scheduled for Monday, May 17, 2021, at the First Baptist Church in Lamesa at 2p.m., the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.
3. The Bodies of the Fallen Deputies Were Escorted in a Procession & Fellow Police Officers Mourned The Loss
Fellow police officers mourned the loss of the two fallen Concho County sheriff’s deputies, writing condolences on their social media pages. You can watch a video of the full procession here.
“We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Concho County Sherriff Department on the loss of two of their deputies in the line of duty Monday evening,” the Lubbock Police Department wrote on Twitter.
Lubbock Police Department organized the procession to escort the bodies of the officers. Video of the procession showed a long line of emergency vehicles escorting the bodies.
“The Lubbock Police Department is heartbroken at the loss of two Concho County Sheriff’s Deputies who were killed in the line of duty Monday evening,” they wrote.
Lubbock Police shared details of the route, and asked the public to “lift up the families, both blood and blue, of these two heroes.”
“Please pray for the families and friends of the two Concho County Deputies who were shot and killed in the line of duty last evening,” the National Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement on Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Concho County Sheriff’s Office.”
A candlelight vigil was also scheduled for the fallen officers at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 11 in Eden. Attendees were asked to wear blue in honor of law enforcement.
4. Texas Governor Greg Abbott Called the Deaths ‘a Terrible Loss’ & Congressman August Pfluger Made a Statement on the House Floor
Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed his sympathy to the loved ones of the fallen deputies in a statement, calling it a “terrible loss.” He said the shooting was a reminder of the risks that law enforcement officers face every day.
His statement said:
Our hearts go out to the family & friends of 2 Concho County Sheriff’s deputies who were killed in the line of duty last night.
This terrible loss is a solemn reminder of the risks our brave law enforcement officers face while protecting our communities.
George P. Bush also shared his condolences in a statement on Twitter.
“Last night, we lost two Concho County Sheriff’s Deputies in the line of duty,” he wrote. “These brave officers laid down their lives in order to keep us safe. We will NEVER forget their sacrifice, and we will make sure their lives and service are honored.”
Congressman United States Congressman August Pfluger also made a statement on the House floor in the aftermath of the shooting.
“We will never stop honoring their legacy,” he said in a statement, and asked Americans to appreciate their law enforcement officers and pray for them.
Leonard’s brother, Zach Leonard, shared an article about Pfluger’s statement on the House floor.
“Thank you Rep Pfluger for your kind words. It helps to know there are still good men who support law enforcement,” he wrote.
Pfluger also posted on Facebook, writing:
This week is #NationalPoliceWeek, and Concho County knows all too well the importance of police officers. Today, I spoke on the House floor honoring the legacy and service of the two Concho County officers who were killed last night in the line of duty. These officers died protecting their community to the very end—defending the freedoms, values, safety our country holds dearly. We stand with the all Concho County law enforcement officers mourning the loss of these heroes.
The Concho County Hospital also made a statement on the deaths of the deputies and injured Eden City employee.
“On behalf of Concho County Hospital and Concho Medical Clinic, we extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones and fellow colleagues of our two Concho County Sheriff Deputies who bravely gave their lives in the line of duty,” the statement said. “This tragedy is another solemn reminder of the risk the men and women of law enforcement take every day when they put on their uniform and badge. Our Deputies will never be forgotten by a grateful community. Godspeed, and peace to their families, their many friends, and all first-responders.
We also send out prayers to the Eden City Worker who was seriously wounded during the fray and wish him a speedy recovery.”
Four Law Enforcement Officers Were Killed in 24 Hours May 11 & 124 Were Killed in 2021
The Officer Down Memorial Page said there have been 124 officers killed in the line of duty in 2021.
“When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation,” Officer Down Memorial Page Founder Chris Cosgriff wrote on his website.
“In the past 48 hours, 4 officers have been shot and killed in America,” a New Jersey police union wrote on Twitter. “Pray for @SLOCityPolice Det. Luca Benedetti, @StocktonPolice Officer Jimmy Inn, Deputy Sheriff Samuel Leonard and Deputy Sheriff Stephen Jones, Concho County Sheriff’s Office, Texas. Too many #Heroes lost.”
The Pflugerville ISD Police Department also sent their sympathies to the families.
“The Pflugerville ISD Police Department sends our condolences & prayers for peace and comfort to the families of Deputy Samuel Leonard & Sergeant Stephen Jones and our blue family at the Concho County Sheriff’s Office ~ Rest easy brothers, we have it from here,” they wrote on Twitter.