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Texas man charged with capital murder after 6 dead, 3 wounded in wide trail of separate attacks

Austin Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson spoke to media early Wednesday in Austin, Texas after a daylong series of attacks in the city left four people dead and at least three injured.Sara Diggins/Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas authorities on Wednesday charged a man with capital murder following a wave of daylong violence across two major cities that left six people dead and two police officers recovering from gunshots, including one who was shot in the leg outside a high school in Austin.

A cyclist in Austin was also shot and wounded in a trail of attacks that began Tuesday morning and ended with the suspect crashing his car that evening during a police pursuit, Austin interim Police Chief Robin Henderson said. In all, four who died were found in two homes in Austin and two others were found in a home more than 80 miles away in the San Antonio area.

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Henderson said it was unclear what, if any, relationship the man had to the victims.

Authorities identified the suspect as Shane James, 34. Online jail records in Travis County show he was being held on charges of capital murder and misdemeanors from other counties. The records do not indicate whether James has an attorney and several people listed as relatives of James in public records did not immediately respond to phone messages Wednesday.

“We strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents,” Henderson said during a news conference early Wednesday.

Court records show James was previously charged in San Antonio with three misdemeanor counts of allegedly assaulting a member of his family or household. Those charges are awaiting a hearing.

James is a former US Army infantry officer who served from February 2013 to August 2015, according to Lieutenant Colonel Ruth Castro, Army spokesperson. He had no deployments and his last rank was first lieutenant.

Henderson said authorities did not determine the Austin attacks were connected until the final one at a home, which happened more than eight hours after a school police officer was shot and wounded in a high school parking lot on the other side of the city.

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In San Antonio, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the bodies of two people were found inside a residence after deputies saw water coming out of the home, as though something was leaking inside. He said the deaths appeared to have occurred before the shootings in Austin.

“This occurred, and then the suspect drove to Austin and did what he did there,” Salazar told reporters.

In a statement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state would “impose the full weight of law on this criminal for his despicable crimes.”

“Texans grieve for the loved ones of the six Texans who were murdered by a hardened criminal who must never see the light of day again,” Abbott said in the statement.

The attacks were the country’s 42nd mass killings this year, according to a database maintained by the Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. At least 217 people have died this year in those killings, which are defined as incidents in which four or more people have died within a 24-hour period, not including the killer — the same definition used by the FBI.

A timeline provided by Texas authorities revealed the wide ground the suspect allegedly covered between the attacks.

Henderson said it began with the Austin school district police officer being shot in the leg about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday outside Northeast Early College High School. Then, around noon, police who responded to a home after getting calls about gunshots found two people with signs of trauma. Police say one was dead and the other died at a hospital.

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Daniel Moyer, who lives in the neighborhood, said the area is typically peaceful and felt shaken Wednesday. The neighborhood in south Austin is more than 10 miles from the high school where the officer was shot.

“It could have been me and my wife,” Moyer said.

Another shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m., when a male cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries. About two hours later, police responded to a call of a burglary in progress at another home and found two people dead there. Henderson did not say how the four people in Austin died.

Henderson said that during the call at the last residence, an Austin police officer saw a man in the backyard. The man shot and wounded the officer who returned fire and was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Police said the man, who was not hit, drove away and police chased him. The suspect crashed at about 7:15 p.m. at a highway intersection and was taken into custody. The man had a gun, Henderson said.

She said the officer who was shot and the other officers were wearing body cameras and the video would be released within 10 business days.