Shane James was identified by Austin police as the suspect accused of a violent shooting spree throughout Austin and Bexar County, Texas, that left six people dead and two police officers injured on December 5.
The Austin Police Department released James’ booking photo and described the suspect as “Shane James, White male, 34 years of age.”
APD Interim Chief of Police Robin Henderson said in a news conference that the spree was a “series of tragic events.”
According to KSAT-TV, James “was bonded out of the Bexar County Jail” in 2022 by Laquita Garcia, who is “statewide policy coordinator for the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), an area group that advocates for bail reform.” KSAT reported that a spokesperson for the group “said the organization was saddened and troubled by the murders and would conduct a comprehensive review of its bail program moving forward.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Austin Police Chief Outlined a ‘Series of Violent Incidents’ in Which the Suspect Is Accused of Shooting People Throughout the City
Henderson said the "series of violent incidents" began in the morning "and extended into the evening."
"We strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents," and he is in custody, Henderson said.
Police did not determine that the incidents were connected until the final incident in the evening, she said.
In the first incident, at 10:43 a.m. in Austin, a school district police officer was shot and injured, Henderson said. According to Fox7, the officer was shot in the leg in the parking lot of Nelson Field near Northeast Early College High School.
The second incident unfolded at 11:59 a.m., when Austin 911 communications received multiple calls for help at a location where a double homicide occurred involving a male and female victim, Henderson added.
The double homicide occurred at the 300 block of ShadyWood Drive, according to an earlier news briefing from police Sergeant Destiny Silva.
A source told Fox 7 that the suspect “saw a handyman sitting in his car in front of a home and shot the man through the passenger window.” A woman came out of a home to “see what happened. The suspect then chased her down the road, caught up with her, and shot her.”
The third incident occurred at 4:57 p.m. when Austin 911 received a call where a male cyclist was shot and sustained non life-threatening injuries, the chief said.
The fourth incident occurred at 6:48 p.m., when police received a 911 call of a burglary at a residence in progress, she said. Officers were dispatched at 6:50 p.m. At 6:54 p.m., the initial responding officer arrived at the scene in uniform and encountered a male suspect in the backyard, Henderson added. James is accused of having immediately opened fire at the officer. The officer returned fire, according to the chief.
The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds and moved to a position of cover. The suspect was not struck, she said. The officer is in stable condition.
According to Henderson, James fled the scene in a car and crashed it at an intersection, where he was taken into custody.
Meanwhile, officers entered the home and found two “apparent victims of the suspect” inside the residence who were also dead, Henderson said.
James was taken to the jail and is charged with capital murder, she said.
2. Two More Victims – the Parents of Shane James- Were Discovered in Bexar County
In a news conference, the Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said that Austin law enforcement contacted his county on December 5 after the shooting spree there.
Austin told them the suspect had links to a residence in Fort Royal. They “saw water coming out from the residence,” as if something “was leaking inside,” said the sheriff.
They found two bodies inside the home, according to the sheriff. They are believed to be in their 50s, he said, adding that the suspect was linked to the house. The sheriff said authorities believe the Bexar County murders occurred before the murder spree in Austin.
Salazar named the victims as Phyllis James, 55, and Shane M. James Sr, 56, Shane James’ parents.
5. Shane James Was Previously a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army
According to KXAN, James is a military veteran.
He served “in the Army as an infantry officer with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos). He held the rank of first lieutenant and was not deployed during his service,” the television station reported.
“James was only with the Army from February 2013 until August 2015,” KXAN reported, adding that the Army would not comment on how he separated from the military. However, Salazar said in a December 6 news conference that James was discharged from the Army because of a “domestic violence incident.”
4. Shane James Was Wanted on a Family Violence Warrant
According to Henderson, James was also booked into the jail on an outstanding warrant for assault with injury, a family violence warrant.
According to Salazar, James was arrested in January 2022 on misdemeanor assault charges involving his parents and sibling, which involved them being “pushed and scratched.”
The family wanted James to be released from jail and told a victims advocacy worker for the county that James had mental health struggles.
He was released on bail in March but removed his ankle bracelet, a violation, according to Salazar. He was wanted on a warrant since that time, the sheriff said.
Salazar also described another incident in August 2023, where James’ father called police, and found James naked in a bedroom at the San Antonio home. He wouldn’t come out of the room and insulted deputies, who left, telling James’ father to call them when he came out. Despite the warrants, they left without an arrest.
“It appears by all accounts, he’s suffered with mental illness for some years, from what the family members are telling us,” Salazar said at the press conference. “There is definitely a mental health aspect to this.”
5. The Austin Police Association Called the Spree One of the ‘Most Tragic, Traumatic & Inexplicable Events’ in Austin’s Recent History
“Yesterday was one of the most tragic, traumatic, and inexplicable events this community has faced in recent history. The men and women of the Austin Police Department have once again shown their bravery and dedication to this community,” the Austin Police Association wrote on Facebook.
“They rushed into a dangerous unknown situation in an attempt to save others from a mad man, and even after one of our own had been shot, officers continued to chase him down until he was apprehended.”
“Our detectives and officers have worked tirelessly, demonstrating the upmost level of professionalism and diligence, to ensure the case and all associated evidence is recorded and preserved for the forthcoming legal proceedings. Our deepest condolences go out to everyone who has been impacted by this tragedy,” the association continued. “Please keep our officer and the victims’ families in your prayers as they face the unspeakable loss of a loved one.”