Stephen Jones, a married father of five, was one of the two Concho County Sheriff’s deputies killed in Eden, Texas responding to a call regarding dogs. The second deputy was identified as Samuel Leonard, and an Eden city employee was also critically wounded. The murder suspect, Jeffrey Nicholas, has been arrested and is in jail on a $4 million bond.
Jones and Leonard were called at about 8:40 p.m. Monday, May 10 for a dog complaint, along with an Eden city employee. The standard call turned into “an altercation occurred which quickly escalated to gunfire,” officials said in a statement. Jones was 34.
Neighbors recounted the shooting to San Angelo Live, and said they heard a volley of gunfire. The Concho County Sheriff’s Office is collecting donations for the families of both deputies, they wrote in a Facebook post.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jones Had 5 Children & Was Married Since 2005 With His Anniversary Approaching in 2 Weeks
Jones was a father who would have been celebrating his 16th wedding anniversary on May 28, according to his Facebook profile. Concho County was his hometown, and he was homeschooled before he took jobs with the county. His profile says he was elected as a Concho County Constable, along with his job as a Concho County Sheriff’s Deputy. Among his duties were teaching a license-to-carry class, and he achieved the rank of sergeant.
Zach Leonard, the brother of fallen deputy Samuel Leonard, shared a video of the procession escorting Jones’ body May 12.
“Rest well Deputy Jones,” he wrote in the post.
He shared a photo after a large drug bust in 2018, writing, “55 Pounds of marijuana off the streets!!! As well as some other drugs and a stolen firearm!!”
Jones worked as a sheriff’s deputy for more than seven years, and became a deputy in 2013. He also had seven siblings, according to his obituary. He had four daughters and a son.
“He will always be remembered as an awesome husband, father, son, brother and friend,” his obituary said. “Stephen had a passion for the outdoors where he enjoyed ranching, hunting and shooting.”
He shared a picture posing with his 4-year-old girl on Christmas 2020.
“That’s my 4th daughter,” he wrote. “She’s already 4!!”
Jones was active on his Facebook page. He often shared posts supporting his local fire department, dispatchers and fellow law enforcement officers. He also regularly shared public alerts from the sheriff’s department and police departments, and routinely shared memorials for fallen officers.
He was an avid outdoorsman, fisherman and a hunter. He shared photos of group hunting trips and hiking trips, adventures with his family and pictures with his wife, smiling. He shared several pictures of hiking trips with his family, often carrying his youngest daughter on his back.
His body will be escorted Wednesday, May 11, 2021, the Concho County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook.
“The escort home for Concho County Sgt. Stephen Jones Badge #2404 will be leaving Lubbock at approximately 8AM tomorrow enroute to San Angelo Texas via US HWY 87. Funeral Service Pending,” the post said.
Friends poured out condolences to his wife on Facebook.
“Your family holds a special place in my heart and I share your sorrow,” one person wrote. “In this terrible time take care of yourself as you care for your family. Let those you love, love on you. Accept all offers of help from family, friends, and LEOs. Cry when you need to, smile when you can. Hold on to precious memories of times spent with Stephen and know your family is loved. Your family is in the hands of our loving God and He will never let go. I love you, sweet friend.”
Another person wrote, “there are no words but Faith from turning beauty from ashes….you and those babies are prayed for… for every second of everyday.”
“Stephen loved you all fiercely. Keep that in your heart. Remind the children,” wrote another person. “A love like his does not end.”
Donations for the families can be mail or delivered to the sheriff’s office in Eden, according to the Concho County Sheriff’s Office.
“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.
2. Neighbors Recounted the Police Chase, Standoff & Shooting Scene to Local Reporters
Witnesses told San Angelo Live that the situation rapidly increased from the time deputies approached Nicholas in his vehicle to a gun battle that cost two deputies their lives. Eden City Mayor Pete Torres, who lives around the corner from Nicholas, was among the eyewitnesses to the deadly shooting and convinced Nicholas to surrender after about 30 minutes barricaded, the news station reported.
Several witnesses recounted the scene, with one saying the deadly situation began when officers conducted a traffic stop on Nicholas near his home. The witness told the news outlet they heard police talking to Nicholas, saying “Roll your window down and then put up your hands.” Instead, the driver fled, the witness said.
Soon after, there was gunfire, with nine or 10 gunshots and “people shooting back and forth…”
Another witness reported hearing the suspect yelling “Those aren’t my dogs. You are always harassing me and tasing me..,” the person told the news outlet.
Nicholas then shouted about his Constitutional Rights, witnesses told the news outlet.
Neighbors told reporters there are six dogs in the neighborhood “that are vicious that control the neighborhood.”
The suspect was arrested by Texas Rangers and booked into the Tom Green County Jail at 5:38 a.m. Tuesday, May 11, 2021, on a $4 million bond, $2 million for each count of capital murder of a peace officer, according to the county’s jail roster.
Here is his booking information:
Texas Rangers are leading the investigation.
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 a 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.
Residents throughout the small town changed their profile pictures to honor the fallen officers.
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.
4. Texas Governor Greg Abbott Made a Statement on the ‘Terrible Loss’ & Said it Was a ‘Reminder of the Risks’ Officers Face
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.”
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.”
5. 124 Law Enforcement Officers Have Been Killed in the Line of Duty in 2020
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 the website.
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.
He 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.