EDEN, Texas – A man suspected in a West Texas shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others wounded was a Marine who was wanted for questioning in a slaying in North Carolina, officials said Monday.
The rampage Sunday morning ended when Esteban J. Smith, 23, of the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina, died in a gunfight with a state trooper and a state game warden, said Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Six others were shot, one fatally, in the pre-dawn rampage across West Texas’ rolling plains, Vinger said in a statement issued Monday.
Three people were treated for their wounds in hospitals and discharged. Two others, including Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane, remained hospitalized with non-life-threatening wounds. Texas authorities said the gunman seemed to choose his targets at random.
Camp Lejeune officials would not confirm the suspect’s name. However, spokesman Master Sgt. J.D. Cress said in an emailed statement that authorities were investigating a possible connection between the Texas shooting and a homicide in Jacksonville, North Carolina, near the Marine base. He also confirmed that the Texas shooting suspect was an active duty Marine.
The Texas shootings began about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, when the gunman shot a motorist in the Eden area of Concho County, about 40 miles (65 kilometres) southeast of San Angelo and 210 miles (340 kilometres) southwest of Dallas. She was hospitalized in San Angelo with non-life-threatening wounds, Vinger said.
Over the next 90 minutes, two more people were shot while sitting in a car at a convenience store in adjacent McCulloch County. Both were treated for their wounds and discharged from a hospital, Vinger said.
Shortly after 6 a.m., Alicia Torres, 41, was found dead in her car in Eola, just east of San Angelo, Vinger said.
The suspect fired on the vehicle of Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane when the sheriff came upon him north of Eden, according to DPS. Doane was wounded in the gunfire and hospitalized with non-life-threatening wounds, Vinger said.
A state trooper and game warden came upon the scene and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was killed.
An assault rifle, handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered from his vehicle, Vinger said.
© The Associated Press, 2013